Springbok and Stormers loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff says he does not think scrumming will put players at extra risk of the coronavirus when the rugby season resumes.
In May, World Rugby released a set of temporary and optional law trials that related either to scrum, tackle, ruck and maul areas to lower the risk of transmitting the Covid-19 virus.
The trials provide limits to scrum options with no scrum resets, with a free kick instead awarded to the team in possession at the scrum. There is also an amendment to take away the option of a scrum when a penalty or free kick is awarded.
NZ Rugby had already announced that they will not be implementing the law trials in Vodacom Super Rugby Aotearoa, which kicks off this weekend.
‘It is something that needs to be talked about,’ Kitshoff said. ‘I personally think if everybody is safe and has been tested and isn’t going into the game with any symptoms, then 80 minutes of scrummaging and mauling will be fine. You will be safe until the end of the game. It is something we have to get through and something that needs to be talked about. But I don’t see issues if teams are isolated and there are outside influence that could infect anyone before a game.’
Kitshoff has spent his lockdown recovering from a pectoral injury suffered against the Sharks in Durban in the final round before the season was suspended, but confirmed he should be fit by the time a domestic South African tournament could be launched in August.
‘I had the operation on 18 March. It is a four-month injury, so it is the last couple of weeks. Otherwise I am feeling good. I don’t have any issues or pain. It is just about rebuilding the strength and getting ready to take contact.’
With SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux confirming that a domestic tournament could return in either August or September – depending on the local lockdown status – South African players can start seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Kitshoff added that forwards could need up to a month to get used to scrumming and mauling again after spending the last couple of months without any contact training.
‘Every week you train scrumming, lineout lifting and mauling. We have been sidelined for a couple of months. If we are talking about kicking the season off in August, it is important for teams to get together and start training those things. We develop and build on those things throughout a season. It will be very important to train those things at least two weeks prior to the first game.
‘We would probably need four weeks or so to get ready to take contact without getting injured. It’s probably going to take a month of intense training. When you think of the pre-season in January before going into Super Rugby, we probably need another four weeks like that to be able to get back to fitness.’