Morné Steyn out due to Covid-19 protocols, but Jake confident Bulls-Pumas game will be played
CAPE TOWN - While Morné Steyn is in isolation, there is no danger of the Bulls’ Super Rugby Unlocked game against the Pumas on Saturday being called off as a result of Covid-19 protocols.
That was the view of coach Jake White, who stated that star flyhalf Steyn was left out of the starting team on Thursday after being exposed to someone who has subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The most important thing is that Morné is (out) with Covid-19 protocols – not risking him – so Chris (Smith) gets a start there. He has been on the bench for all the weeks anyway, so it is good to see him get a bit of a start,” White said.
“He (Steyn) was in close contact (with someone who tested positive), and we will test him again tomorrow. But rather than put him half-in and half-out, we just decided rather that we would leave him out completely and just keep going with someone else.
“He has a family, and on Sunday, he was at a baptism of his child, and there was apparently someone there in that environment that was with him, who tested positive. So, at the moment, he is out of the group.
“On Monday, we didn’t train, and on Tuesday we tested the players and he was part of that. We said that we won’t risk him and will wait until everyone is negative. He was tested, and we will test him again on Friday to make sure he is alright, so there is no question of the game (being called off).
“All the players who have been on the field from Wednesday until now are all ready to play.”
The Pumas also missed last week’s game against the Lions due to some of their players testing positive for Covid-19, but White was confident that Saturday’s match at Loftus Versfeld (2pm kickoff) will take place.
“From talking to our president and CEO, the Pumas have been training the whole week with a full-strength squad – as in everyone allowed to play. The guys who are on the fence and were in close contact with the guys who were positive – those guys in isolation weren’t positive, and will get tested today,” the former Bok coach said.
“The game is on, and it just depends on whether they have access to the players who were in isolation to be part of the match-day 23.
“If not, they have 23 players who can come to Pretoria on Saturday. If they have the luxury of those players who were in isolation and tested negative, all of them can be part of the squad.”
Positive Covid-19 tests have already resulted in three matches being called off, and the concern remains that coronavirus will affect the upcoming Currie Cup as well.
White, though, felt that all the teams can do is stick to the SA Rugby protocols. “For everybody, it’s the same. You’ve got to think on your feet and the players have got to be resilient. We’ve got to be able to adapt and be resilient – we’ve got to understand that sometimes, things are out of your control,” he said.
“It’s not ideal, but if we stick to the protocols, it’s very simple. Mondays and Tuesdays, you shouldn’t be doing anything and stay out of small groups, out of scrumming and mauling and contact sessions.
“Then you get tested on a Tuesday – that is the protocol – and everyone gets the results late on Tuesday night and if not, first thing Wednesday morning. That means the way it is now, you should train Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – then you know that basically everyone who is at training is negative.”
“If you take a chance and try to squeeze some stuff in on a Monday and Tuesday, and you get some test results on Wednesday, you can be in trouble. It means that not only are the positive guys out, but also the guys who have been in close contact.
“It is, as we get deeper and deeper into the tournament, we’ve got to be smarter. Even if it feels as if you are not as prepared as you like to be, you’d rather have your whole team negative from a Covid point of view and ready to play at the weekend.”