Stormers fullback Warrick Gelant says the players feel a personal responsibility to protect their families from the Covid-19 pandemic. DYLAN JACK reports.
Despite the heavy restrictions implemented by the six participating teams, the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament has been impacted by the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, SA Rugby confirmed that the Stormers’ final-round match against the Sharks scheduled for Durban on Saturday had been cancelled due to positive tests in the Sharks camp. This comes after the scheduled third-round battle between the Lions and Cheetahs was called off for similar reasons. The Lions also had a second match impacted by Covid-19 protocols after last Saturday’s clash with the Pumas was called off due to safety precautions.
The Stormers, however, have managed to keep themselves creatively clean on this front, with their only incident coming when Springboks Steven Kitshoff and Scarra Ntubeni had to self-isolate – despite both testing negative – after coming into contact with a positive case.
After the Lions’ clash with the Cheetahs was cancelled, Stormers coach John Dobson revealed that the team had implemented their own ‘level-four lockdown‘, urging players to limit their social activities beyond their training ground.
Speaking to the media during an online conference on Tuesday, Gelant said the Stormers players feel a personal responsibility to follow the Covid-19 protocols in order to keep their family members safe.
‘We have no other choice than to be well disciplined,’ Gelant said. ‘We all have family members at home and some of the guys are living with their parents. It is not only about putting players at risk, it is also about our families. This is a big pandemic that is going on. The virus is very real and there are massive consequences that can happen. For us, to be disciplined is far bigger than just the game.
‘Our family members know that we need to keep our social circle as small as possible,’ Gelant added. ‘It is very difficult for us to control, but we are getting it right here. Our results speak for themselves.’
Stormers backline coach Dawie Snyman said the team have had to accept that their Super Rugby campaign will end without a flourish and will turn their attentions to continuing their momentum in the Currie Cup.
‘We felt we started to get momentum as a team. Obviously, if we keep playing as a team and keep playing as a unit, we are only going to get better,’ Snyman said. ‘It is out of our control. There is nothing we can do about it. We will just focus on what we can finish up with this week and start to prepare for next week.’
The Stormers players will next be in action as Western Province and will welcome the Vodacom Bulls to Newlands in their first 2020 Currie Cup match on 28 November.
‘It is going to be a big game – the last game at Newlands between Western Province and the Bulls,’ Snyman said. ‘This week, even though we were playing the Sharks, we were looking at ourselves as a team and how we can develop as a team. It will be the same process next week. Making sure we take a step forward every time we get on to the training and playing field.
‘Obviously, it will be a massive game against the Bulls but it is also a chance to continue our long-term development as a team going into the semi-final and final next year.’
Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix