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What the best SA teams can do is watch New Zealand return to Super Rugby

10 June 2020 - 15:30 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Coach Sean Everitt is doing a fantastic job with the Cell C Sharks so far despite limited Super Rugby experience.
Coach Sean Everitt is doing a fantastic job with the Cell C Sharks so far despite limited Super Rugby experience.
Image: Joe Allison / www.Photosport.nz

While New Zealand joyfully braces itself for this weekend’s Super Rugby return on their shores‚ the best the South African teams can do is to watch.

While the New Zealand Super Rugby tournament will be played by the five franchises there‚ the Sharks led the Super Rugby log before the Covid-19 pandemic's icy grip fastened itself on South African sports in mid-March.

Super Rugby in its current form doesn’t look like it will happen‚ but Sharks coach Sean Everitt knows that could lead to a full strength Currie Cup if all the big players are still in the country.

“It could be competitive‚ but it all depends on whether there will be international rugby or not. If the borders are still closed‚ it could be a full strength competition.

"I do understand that some players will be going abroad‚ but it also provides an opportunity for youngsters to thrive.

"You can also look at your wider training group and give them more opportunities‚” Everitt said.

The Sharks returned to training last week after contact sports were allowed to return to training.

Everitt said they have split the squad into small groups so they can minimise the risk of infection.

“The guys came in for medicals and screening while doing Super Rugby reviews in small groups.

"Our squad is 42‚ from where the guys have been split into six groups of seven.

"We’ve also tried to make sure we don’t have all positions in one group in case one group has to be isolated in the case of an infection.

"That’s to avoid losing all your hookers in one go‚” Everitt said.

“We’ve also grouped them in terms of who they stay with‚ so the guys who are sharing apartments are in one group. If it happens that one of the guys in that specific group gets infected‚ the guys who are sharing can isolate together.”

While the return to training is gradual and guided by government regulations‚ there’s still the need to keep players refreshed and mentally in a good space while there’s no rugby taking place in South Africa.

Everitt said the lockdown-enforced downtime and the longer it goes on means players will take longer to return to peak fitness

“The longer we take to get out of lockdown‚ the longer it’ll take to get fit. We’re looking at an eight-week block‚ which should be enough for us to prepare well for any tournament that may come up.

"I think the players want to get on the field and they want to play‚” Everitt said.

“They’re provincial sportsmen‚ so we expect them to be ready when any tournament kicks off. They’ve been off for a while and like kids who get back to school‚ they’ll need time to settle in.

"We’ve already started to integrate them into running at home‚ now there’s the ground work from a condition point of view so they can hit the ground running when training can resume.”