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'Toulouse went back and the skills coach is working more hours than he's ever worked in his life'

Bernard Jackman discussed the provinces’ impending return to training on Thursday’s podcast.

Hurricanes Squad Training, Wellington, New Zealand.
Hurricanes Squad Training, Wellington, New Zealand.
Image: Photosport/Elias Rodriguez/INPHO

BERNARD JACKMAN JOINED Gavan Casey for Thursday’s The42 Rugby Weekly, during which they looked back upon Super Rugby’s return and discussed Michael Cheika’s war of words with one of his former Australia selectors.

Jackman also cast an eye towards the province’s return to training, with Munster and Leinster set to resume limited activity next week following the start of player Covid testing today. Ulster and Connacht will follow suit on 29 June.

The former Grenoble and Dragons head coach gave an insight into the players’ strength-and-conditioning regimes during lockdown, how even the hardest of trainers will likely not have been able to maintain the standards they would have set in the team gym, and how the next eight weeks will shape up from a training-plan standpoint.

He also touched upon the difficulties facing coaches — and in particular skills coaches, who will have their work cut out for them until physical contact between players can resume.

You can listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get yours.

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“Just speaking to some of my coaching pals”, Jackman said, “Toulouse went back a few weeks ago and the skills coach is working more hours than he’s ever worked in his life!

“Because they’re in the gym in small groups, and then they’re rotating out to the pitch in small groups, and because there’s no contact and no team stuff, it’s all skill-based. So, he’s effectively doing the same session 10 times a day to get through the 50 players in groups of five.

“They go in and out of the environment without having contact with other players. They come in togged out — they don’t go into the dressing room. It’s a one-way system in the car park and so on. So, it’s very stringent, it’s well policed, and they’re really happy just to be back, getting towards when they can train properly and play again. There’s no complaints from them about the criteria — it’s just a case of, it makes the days longer for some of the coaches.

The big focus at the moment is getting that gym strength, power work up. Also, to be honest, the challenge — and this is what’s coming back from soccer — is the unanticipated stopping and turning, and the late shifts of direction, that are causing the injuries rather than straight-up, flat-speed running because they’ve been able to do that in lockdown. That’s what they’ll want to be careful about and that’s where they’ll try to introduce [measures] as much as possible to get the body ready for that over the next four or five weeks.

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