Boks may need seven-week build-up before springing into combat

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Boks may need seven-week build-up before springing into combat

If SA make it to New Zealand, the team will probably have to be bolstered to lessen individual workloads

Sports reporter
Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber is following developments in New Zealand closely.
eye on the ball Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber is following developments in New Zealand closely.
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

There is a reason professional rugby players have extended preseason training routines before they go into combat — the high attrition rate.

The rate is clear in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa, with all five franchises afflicted by crippling injuries‚ with some hit harder than others.

Their orthopaedic upheaval has been monitored with more than a passing interest by the Springbok brains’ trust, which is hoping to get its players properly up to speed should they get the green light to play in the Rugby Championship‚ which is tentatively scheduled to start in October.

They are champing at the bit to get back to full training‚ but lockdown restrictions have kept them separated.

The Kiwis had a five-week return-to-play protocol before their players were unleashed on each other‚ but SA’s players will probably require a seven-week build-up period before seeing combat.

The most number of injuries occur when you have two or three really high-intensity matches.
Former Springbok conditioning coach Derik Coetzee

It is hoped they will get to play in the eight-team Currie Cup, with Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber already intimating the players will need nothing short of six matches to get up to speed.

Even if they get that under the belt‚ the condensed six-week Rugby Championship will be taxing on the body.

Should they make it to New Zealand later this year, the Boks will probably have to take an enlarged group of players in a bid to lessen the individual workload. There will be other logistical considerations, too, such as avoiding quarantine should the playing squad need replenishing.

But playing highly demanding back-to-back fixtures on consecutive weekends is likely to take a physical and psychological toll.

“The most number of injuries occur when you have two or three really high-intensity matches‚” warned former Springbok conditioning coach professor Derik Coetzee recently.

“This is why your recovery period is critically important.

The challenge is now to avoid doing too much, as it can increase your risk of injury.
Former Springbok conditioning coach Derik Coetzee

“The challenge is now to avoid doing too much, as it can increase your risk of injury,” he said, adding that management of the players’ workload will have to be superb.

“There is a fine balance that needs to be achieved between their practice load and their match load‚” said Coetzee, who is now the head of department at the faculty of health sciences at the University of the Free State.

Of course, the first hurdle the players have to negotiate is getting ready for the Currie Cup, which, it is hoped, will start in the last week of August or first week in September.

Players got the green light to resume non-contact training on July 20, but any meaningful preparation will only start once they are allowed to run into each other.

Meanwhile‚ the clock is ticking.