Stormers are better now, coach Dobson reckons
CAPE TOWN - For Stormers fans, the wait just may have been worth it.
According to head coach John Dobson, his team are “considerably superior” to the way they were back in March prior to rugby’s suspension.
With contact training not having been permitted during the stricter Covid-19 regulations, the team zoomed in on improving their skills.
This, Dobson believes, will make his group an exciting unit once they get back onto the field.
“That’s the one thing (skills training) we could do from the start, we used to call it our deficits and our X - the deficits are the skills you needed to work on, the X is your party trick, like a chicken-wing offload.
“That’s one thing we’ve really held them accountable for,” he said during a media engagement via Zoom yesterday.
“We worked on the removal of deficits, so those things had to be improved by the time we got back together, and the party trick had to become better. So I hope, across all South African rugby, that that’s where we’re going to see some excitement, especially with the ball.
“The guys are going to struggle at home with tackle technique and to do more snaps, and when it comes to the magic of the hand and that sort of stuff, the hand-eye stuff, we did a whole Sherylle Calder (Eye Gym) course.
“So I’m really hoping that will be better. The way we’ve trained - I’m not talking about the set-piece now - but we would beat the ‘us’ of March. The way we’re training now is considerably superior to the way we were training in March in terms of skill and intensity.”
But while Dobson is looking forward to a sharper expression and execution of flair when rugby kicks off (Currie Cup, October 10, while South African sides will also square off in SuperHero Saturday next weekend and the Springbok Showdown between a Green team and a Gold team on October 3), he is also cautious of the injury threat after more than six months of no rugby.
“We’re massively scared of injury. I don’t think it’s since school - if even then - that the guys have gone six and a half months like this and then straight into some pretty full-on games.
“Watching tomorrow (today when the teams will play three chukkas in preparation for action), watching SuperHero, watching Green and Gold is going to be tough.
“We saw the stats from Bundesliga and various others when they went back,” he said.
“The players are really keen to play mentally, but also really worried about injury.
“We tried to push and to get as close as we could to within the regulations, but it’s very hard to scrum and maul with a mask on properly, so that’s our biggest concern.
“But obviously we want to play.”
Dobson confirmed that Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is still recovering from the rare haematoma he sustained against the Blues in February (which developed into compartment syndrome and nearly cost him his leg), would miss out on the warm-up games and the first two domestic matches.