Kolisi and his team-mates last saw action in March against the Cell C Sharks before the Vodacom Super Rugby season was prematurely brought to an abrupt end because of the worldwide pandemic.
Wearing masks and interrupting training at different times to wash rugby balls, Kolisi and Kitshoff returned to the training field after recovering from long-term injuries suffered during Vodacom Super Rugby action.
In another boost for the DHL Stormers, fellow Springboks Bongi Mbonambi, Herschel Jantjies and World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter Steph du Toit are all set to return to field training within the next two weeks following their successful injury rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, the DHL Stormers players and coaches are all excited to be back at training while adhering to the new COVID-19 regulations at the High Performance Centre in Bellville after having spent the last four months training on their own.
With the squad divided into two teams and then further sub-divided into training groups of five, the players and coaches have quickly adjusted to the new training protocols as set out by government and SA Rugby.
DHL Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman said that just to be back in each other’s company at the High Performance Centre has been a big boost for everyone.
“It is great to be back, even if it is just standing outside in the sun and seeing the players work a bit, it is our passion, so to be out on the field and see a few faces that we haven’t seen in a while is great,” said Snyman.
“We have to keep to the restrictions; we can work with the ball but it has to be in groups of no more than five. So at least we are not running on our own at home, I think that gives a bit of extra motivation for the players because they are running in lanes with a guy next to him who is actually pushing him a bit.
“Now and then just to be able to pass a ball, you can see the timing is a bit out for some of the players who haven’t handled a ball in a while. I think that is a nice progression and it is just good to have the guys around each other and pushing each other a bit.”
DHL Stormers team doctor Jason Suter explained that there are exhaustive protocols in place to screen each person that enters the High Performance Centre, which has been adapted significantly for the return to training this week.
“Together with the government regulations, we have incorporated the principles of COVID-19 prevention into making the workplace and specifically the HPC as safe as possible,” said Suter.
“This started two weeks ago with mandatory COVID-19 testing, we were all tested and only those with negative tests were allowed to enter the facility.
“In addition there is wellness screening, which has a COVID-19 component, to make sure that when the person is at home they have no symptoms before they leave and then when they arrive there is a second COVID-19 screening app which incorporates temperature checks and screening before they enter the facility.
“They then sanitise their hands and then enter the facility. The app will kick out anyone who has any signs or symptoms or contacts.
“The facility itself has been deep-cleaned and we have divided the players and coaching staff into two separate teams which do not come into contact with each other. Within those teams, they are separated further into stacks of five players. Those groups basically work in isolation and we try not to let them come into contact with each other.
“We are being very strict on the basics of COVID-19 prevention, which is the use of masks at all times. In addition to that we have changed the flow of the facilities so that we don’t have players going past each other, it is a one-way traffic system and we have obviously improved ventilation and cleaning.”
Suter added that there was good news in terms of long term injured players, all of whom are on track.
“The good news is that Kitsie [Steven Kitshoff] is training fully from Monday with the team in terms of what the team is allowed to do,” said Suter.
“Bongi [Mbonambi] will join full team training by the end of next week and Pieter-Steph [Du Toit] should be the same. Siya [Kolisi] is training fully already with the team and Herschel [Jantjies] will be training fully with the team by next Monday.”
Snyman explained that in terms of coaching, the focus is currently on each individual and reaching their specific goals, while the coaching staff has also been keeping an eye on developments in New Zealand and Australia in terms of the new law interpretations and trends.
“Each guy has got his individual goals and we know what each player is working towards,” said Snyman.
“That also gives some motivation, that we can focus on getting each player at the best of his ability and the best condition they can be in.
“We have done our homework and looked at ourselves mostly and where we are as a team and what we want to implement. When we start playing again we want to implement those and we are ready to go with that.
“In terms of opposition we are having a good look at what is happening in New Zealand and Australia. Especially with the new interpretations of the laws around the breakdown, because I think that is something that we need to adjust to.”