Sharks coach Sean Everitt is confident a plan will be put in place for the season resumption but only expects confirmation once the 21-day lockdown has ended.
Of all the South African sides, the Sharks would have been most frustrated with the enforced suspension of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Durban side were beginning to hit their straps and had climbed to the top of the overall table after their coastal derby win over the Stormers.
Players have been provided with the necessary equipment, such as wattbikes and dumbells, to keep themselves conditioned during this period. The Sharks have also divided their squad into smaller groups, with members of the coaching contingent acting as mentors to these groups and providing daily feedback on their fitness.
However, when and if the Vodacom Super Rugby season does resume, the players would have to reintegrate as a squad.
Speaking to East Coast Radio, Everitt admitted that the longer the break in the season lasts, the more time the Sharks’ management would need to get the players back to match fitness.
‘Unfortunately, we don’t know how long we are going to be off for and that will determine how long it will take for us to get back into game fitness,’ Everitt said. ‘The first week back after a long break – like we have now – would be about integration. We would get the guys back into their daily routine and the next two weeks we would increase the load. The guys have to be in condition to do contact. The longer it takes, the longer we are going to need to get the guys to where they are.
‘It is all very unclear at the moment,’ he said on the season’s resumption. ‘I am sure there will be meetings taking place in the near future with the CEOs of the various franchises. But as far as we know we obviously need to get through this 21-day period and if it is only 21 days, I am sure there is a plan in place that they will announce. But I don’t think SA Rugby would be able to announce anything until such time that the lockdown is over.’
Everitt said the coaching staff is using the break to analyse their season, looking at what has worked and what hasn’t. He said he was particularly happy with the team’s retention of possession from contestable kicks.
‘Obviously the training time is not available to us anymore. But it is an opportunity for us to have a look at our game model, which is a very broad outlook on how we want to play. It has given us the opportunity to have a look at the detail within that game model, what has worked for us and what hasn’t. There are certain lineouts that have worked well for us and there are certain lineouts that haven’t worked well.
‘We spoke about putting pressure on the breakdown, so we need to look at the detail of that. Are we cleaning out? Are we going for the steal or are we leaving it alone? That is the detail we need to do within that breakdown area, which was also what we are looking at the moment. I am doing a stats breakdown on our recollection of contestable kicks and it has been pretty good, because that is something that we worked on. Those are the things we are looking at.’
Everitt says the players are still motivated to keep fit despite many being away from their families, but added that their mental state could change as the lockdown goes on.
‘It is different for different players. There are some guys who are stuck in apartments on their own, so I am sure it is not pleasant for them. Some of the guys’ girlfriends haven’t been able to come to Durban and spend time with them and likewise they haven’t been able to leave Durban to go to their families. So, it is probably frustrating for a lot of them. But they seem to be coping very well. They seem to be motivated. But this is only week one. We could have the same conversation in three weeks’ time and see how the guys are feeling.’
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