Changes to the game have been significant, according to explosive Lions eighthman Hacjivah Dayimani, as domestic rugby emerges from a five-month lockdown.
Though SA Rugby was expected to make an imminent announcement on the dates for next month’s return to action, following the recent resumption of full training, Dayimani said it had been a tough period.
“I feel like I work for a cleaning company because every time I touch something, I have to clean it,” he told the Lions website.
The 22-year-old Dayimani, who had 29 Super Rugby caps, revealed that at one stage the players had to shower and change their clothes at least four times a day.
“Training has been very different. At one point I just wanted to pass a ball but couldn’t because of social distancing,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of emphasis on individual training and conditioning.”
The players could not enter the stadium without a mask on, and if they were caught without one while training, they could be sent home.
“Gym and training with [a mask] on is so tough because you can’t really breathe comfortably in one, so we try to control our breathing in it,” Dayimani said.
Meanwhile, competition for places among the Lions’ loose forwards was likely to be fierce when the domestic game resumed, with the likes of Dayimani, Jaco Kriel, Marnus Schoeman, Willem Alberts, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka and Roelof Smit all pushing for places in the starting line-up.
“This is good for the Lions because there’s hardly room for mediocrity, and since everyone is pushing each other, we reach different benchmarks and personal best levels at training,” Dayimani said.
“Yes, the competition is real. You can’t afford to have an off day at training. You also can’t afford to remove your foot off the gas pedal because if you do, well, there goes your chance.”
SA Rugby’s general council was due to meet on Wednesday and Friday, but it was expected to vote only next month on whether local sides would leave Super Rugby and join the Pro14 competition.
“Regardless of which competition we enter, the goal hasn’t changed,” Dayimani said.
“I’m looking forward to expressing myself on the field.”