Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has confirmed that it’s not required of his team to undergo another round of testing before their match against Griquas at Ellis Park on Friday.
The Lions’ previous match, against the Cheetahs last week, was put on hold after six players had tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, their upcoming match against Griquas was also in jeopardy, but they’ve since been greenlit by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to resume their campaign.
After another round of testing, followed by a meeting between NICD heads, Van Rooyen and SA Rugby’s chief medical officer, Clint Readhead, on Tuesday, the NICD has determined that there is not an outbreak within the Lions ranks and that no further testing is needed before kick-off on Friday night.
‘We act according to what the NICD asks us to do and on the basis of all the results that they’ve got, they haven’t requested us do to any further tests than are required in the protocol and the protocol at the moment is to test weekly,’ Van Rooyen explained.
The Lions coach also reiterated that the six positive Covid-19 cases within the team are not related to each other.
‘We had one player who was symptomatic and another player most likely got it from him. Those guys had already cleared their time for having to be away from the union when there was two other positive cases, who I suspect were false positives, but they may not have been and they’re just asymptomatic. And, as a result of the four being positive, the NICD wanted us to do further tests on Friday. We did it and there were two more positive cases.
‘They were then concerned that it could be an outbreak and we quarantined the team until Tuesday, which was when we did another set of tests and then we had a meeting with NICD after that. We discussed all the positive results and all their contacts and who’s been in contact with whom, for them to determine whether they believe if this was an outbreak or if it was contained or not. They determined firstly it wasn’t an outbreak and, secondly, the steps we’d taken had been adequate to control it and we are therefore able to play this week.
‘There were two people who clearly were related to each other, they were driving in a lift club together and one of them contracted it from a family member, so there was a very clear link where it came from. The rest of the players were not related to that in any way because they weren’t in contact, so they’ve had positive test in the same way that any member of the public, anyone in the world, could’ve had positive test at any time.’
Van Rooyen added that despite the drama of disease within their ranks, his players have showed great mental fortitude and is ready to challenge Griquas, especially up front, at Ellis Park this week.
‘We feel that transparency and honesty is the way to go with the players. So, we’ve been honest with them from the beginning. We’ve had Zoom meetings with them regarding what’s happened, regarding our plan and how we want to play in fine detail. I really need to commend the players, mentally they are in a good space, they understand what is happening and what we want to achieve and they also understand what they can and can’t do.
‘Set piece in this competition is either going to give you a platform to play off or it can take away your opportunities to play. It’s a way that you can really apply pressure. We feel that our pack stood up well against the Sharks and Stormers, so we’re excited about Friday night, set piece-wise. If you look at it, there’s one or two scrums where Griquas had stood firm in some of their previous game, so it’s an exciting challenge for our pack of forwards from which to lay a foundation for us.’
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