Rob Simmons is back on deck with his teammates at the Waratahs training base in Daceyville, and the skipper couldn’t be happier after several weeks in isolation.
“It was really good fun actually, just to have some familiar faces around and talk to someone while going through the session and enjoying each other’s company,” Simmons said.
Isolation proved tough for Simmons – who like all players – was happy to be back to some normality at NSWRU headquarters.
“You definitely go through stages. I think I’m pretty good at it [training individually] now, but when I was younger, I think I’d have struggled through a phase like this,” he said.
Despite a fairly good gym set up in his garage and a vacant rugby field nearby after returning home to northern NSW, not all elements of a professional program could be replicated.
“It’s hard to get the in-game sort of stuff that you need, except for the running and lifting loads – keeping our strength and fitness up,” Simmons said.
“When you’re the only person out there on the field you can jump and things like that, but essentially it’s around priming your body for this period.”
There’s still some time before the set piece specialist can get back to what he does best, but in the meantime the entire squad will get acquainted with the ‘new norm’.
The Waratahs were faced with several strict protocols in place around arrival times, temperature checks, extensive cleaning and off-limits locations on day one.
“You were waiting around at the gate and you felt a bit like a cow waiting to get fed, they open the gate up and you come flooding in,” Simmons joked.
“Every time you lift, you wipe it down. Lift, wipe it down. It was quite a process.
“We did a bit of a field session and ran around and tried to get some sort of footy incorporated into it as much as we could without touching anything.
“You’re trying to get guys back together and they’re so used to running into each other. The fact no one is there in front of you is an odd feeling.”
The Waratahs will continue to train in groups of nine, with current biosecurity measures continually reviewed as Super Rugby clubs strive to return to full team training when safe to do so.