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SA rugby players ready to make sacrifices

21 April 2020 - 16:47 By Liam Del Carme
The DHL Stormers backline and attack coach Dawie Snyman in action during a training session at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on February 27 2020.
The DHL Stormers backline and attack coach Dawie Snyman in action during a training session at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on February 27 2020.
Image: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

When Super Rugby returns‚ if it does this year‚ it will be a leap into the unknown for all its combatants.

No team will be adequately prepared for the different scenarios they are likely to encounter and if sacrifices are to be made‚ the players are quite happy to make them‚  according to Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman.

The hankering for a return to play is felt as keenly by the players as it is by the public.

“After five weeks they might want to go away‚” chuckled Snyman about a potential return-to-play scenario which involves teams assembling in one location.

 “They just want to make a contribution.

"That will be a massive motivation to the players to come out of lockdown and maybe bring inspiration to people. I don’t think they will mind travelling‚” said Snyman on Tuesday.

What is generally accepted is that things will be far from normal when play resumes.

One likely scenario when they do make it back is for action to be played in front of empty stadiums. 

“It will be an adjustment for players to play in front of an empty stadium. It is something we will have to address the closer we get to that time.

"Luckily we get to train at Newlands when it is empty but our players enjoy the crowd because it creates a bit of atmosphere.

“Maybe it’s about focusing on your job and not outside factors and that is probably the way to go about it‚” stressed Snyman.

The coach is cautious not to overstate the impact changes will have.

 “There will be changes. Things won’t be the same but every year the game evolves. We adapt to it.

"Maybe we will be using smaller squads‚ maybe there’ll be more intense preparation with fewer players and maybe that is the way forward until the economy settles down until bigger budgets are available.”

Snyman believes it will take some time for the players to get up to speed in the intensity and precision required to play Super Rugby after the lockdown.

Although everyone will be in the same boat‚ the physiological demands are likely to test players to the extreme. 

“The most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe and that our environment is safe.

“We can’t think lockdown will finish and we will play a week after that.

"The guys’ need to get used to running into space‚ to accelerate‚ to decelerate and contact. I don’t think the game itself will change.”

As for getting back to the same skill level Snyman is equally cautious. 

“The timing will be out because your sister doesn’t run at the same speed as say Dillyn Leyds in the offload.

"It will take time getting used to running at speed handling the ball. We have given the guys balls with drills to do at home.

"They have been involved in the eye-gym programme. They are doing eye-gyms drills on their laptops just to work on their visual skills.”

Snyman poured cold water on the notion the players might be back on the field by June 5.

“It is changing every day. We haven’t set a goal for when we want to start to play. Our mind set is to finish what you can every day‚ as effectively as you can.”