According to Van Rooyen, the Emirates Lions will leave nothing to chance and have planned accordingly to ensure they adhere to the safety requirements put in place for professional sports teams by government and SA Rugby.
As a result, they will be training in groups of five, in the gym and on the training field – where balls will be cleaned often – to ensure all necessary safety protocols are met.
“We’re excited but also a little bit scared to see how everything will work out in the coming days,” said Van Rooyen.
“But it will be great to see all the players again – albeit in groups of five – and to start training again, even though the circumstances will be different to what we are used to.
“We are going to be rigorous in sticking to and enforcing our ‘fives’ as we start by working on conditioning. As such, we’ve set up five different gym stations so that every group will have their own station, with the necessary sanitation and cleaning equipment and products.
The same five players will be together all the time and will train in the same space every day – they won’t be able to swap or move to other training stations.”
Van Rooyen said the same rules will apply when the players move outdoors to the training field and that they are also going to stick to online team meetings for the time being.
“The online team meetings will work on the same principle – the groups of five will ‘dial’ in using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, from different areas that will be well-ventilated, and we’re planning to keep these meetings to a maximum of 15 minutes,” said Van Rooyen.
The Emirates Lions will welcome a trio of new recruits from north of the Jukskei River – former Vodacom Bulls players Burger Odendaal (centre), Jaco Visagie (hooker) and Wiehahn Herbst (prop) – as well as former Toyota Cheetahs speedster Rabz Maxwane.
An “old acquaintance” in Bok prop Ruan Dreyer, who is returning to Johannesburg from Gloucester in England, and another new signing, EW Viljoen (centre), who played for the DHL Stormers and Leicester Tigers, are both joining from abroad and are still in the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.