Bulls coach Jake White says being infected by Covid-19 was not a pleasant experience.
Bulls coach Jake White says being infected by Covid-19 was not a pleasant experience.

Jake White on fighting Covid-19: It’s not child’s play

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s Covid-19 death toll passed the 30 000 mark on Monday, a grim milestone as the country fights the second wave of the coronavirus.

Rising new daily new positive cases tallies over the last two weeks led to President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a level three lockdown on December 28.

There were cynics who were not convinced by the danger posed by Covid-19 in the initial period between March and July, despite level five restrictions.

One of those was Bulls coach Jake White. Now that the situation is moving closer to home, the 57-year-old is fully aware of just how bad things are, having gone through his own Covid-19 experience recently.

The Pretoria side have been badly affected by the coronavirus, which led to their match against Griquas being postponed, while two other matches against the Lions and Pumas have been rescheduled.

“It really did knock me down. I lied there for a few days and thought ‘You need to take the whole thing into perspective, of where you are’,” White said ahead of Wednesday’s Currie Cup clash against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld (4pm kickoff).

“I’ve lost a friend, the headmaster of HTS Drostdy school (Arthur Underhay) has died. (Former Springbok team manager) Arthob Petersen has passed away. When I was lying in bed, I saw this thing is now serious. It’s not child’s play.

“Like anyone else, you get a sore throat, then you get tired and you get headaches. Your eyes get sore. Then you put the TV on, and all you see is that Covid rates are going through the roof, and the UK is going into lockdown. America has the highest rate.

“Then you start thinking ‘Jeez, I hope I’m (going to be okay). Until you’ve had it, you don’t appreciate that it’s…’ At that time, guys that you know pass away. Then you think ‘Gee, this is getting closer to home’. Then this new strain that came in, and people started talking about it not being the old one anymore, and that the new one is more…

“Unless you’ve actually gone through it, you don’t realise the dangers of it. I would be the first to admit that when it came out, and I didn’t get it. (Then) I realised, and I thought ‘Gee’.

“But the longer it dragged out, the more I’ve seen it and taken a different perspective on it altogether. At that time, losing mates, I was thinking the last thing I need is for this thing to get out of hand – what happens if you don’t get oxygen? What happens if you do get really sick? It’s not a pleasant place to be, I can tell you.”

Bulls centre Stedman Gans is not available for the Lions encounter due to Covid-19 protocols. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Bulls won’t have first-choice backs such as Stedman Gans and Kurt-Lee Arendse available for the Lions encounter due to Covid-19 protocols, as well as regular reserves such as Gerhard Steenekamp, Sintu Manjezi, Nizaam Carr and Marco Jansen van Vuren.

But they have welcomed back captain Duane Vermeulen (rest), Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka and Elrigh Louw (both injuries) as they chase top spot on the log in order to host a semi-final and the final, something that their coach wants them to embrace.

“I came back, and they can see that I am healthy again, psyched up and charged up! In 20 days, the Currie Cup champions will be crowned, and we want to play three of our remaining four games at Loftus,” White said.

“Hopefully I brought that energy, and I told the guys to just enjoy it. At the end of the day, we were nowhere and no one gave us a chance. Okay, we’ve had three weeks off now, and some people are saying this steak is underdone and the other steaks are cooked…

“But let’s leave all of that and just play. The risk is not with us, as we were never the front-runners. Hopefully I relieved some of the pressure.

“Let’s enjoy it, and we have 20 days in this season to make history. You lie in bed and see how fortunate you are, and how difficult it is for other people who have lost family members.”


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