PIC Steelers return to training under strict guidelines

The Counties Manukau PIC Steelers will return to the training park today under strict protocols in preparation for their hopeful return to the Bunnings Warehouse NPC.

Training protocols have been designed with New Zealand Rugby in accordance with Government Alert Level 3 requirements and will see the team complete supervised aerobic training sessions in small groups.

Training groups are restricted to a maximum of 10 people, including players and staff and will last no longer than 60 minutes in duration. All training must be contactless with physical distancing of at least two metres maintained at all times. There will be no sharing of equipment (including rugby balls). Each training group trains separately with a minimum 30-minute gap between one group training and the next arriving at the same outdoor facility.

All players and staff have also been tested prior to returning to training while contact tracing and daily symptom checks (both player/staff and household) are required before a player or staff member can attend training sessions.

“The place of work for professional rugby players includes the training field and gym and these protocols have been developed in strict adherence to the Alert Level 3 settings and in collaboration with the three Auckland based Unions and NZR to help our players return to work albeit in a very limited capacity,” NZR General Manager of Community Rugby Steve Lancaster said. 

“Our goal is to help our teams be as well prepared as possible for a return to the Bunnings Warehouse NPC once Auckland has moved to Alert Level 2, whenever that may be.” 

CMRFU Chief Executive Aaron Lawton said while a return to the training field was a step in the right direction, he outlined that under the current protocols the players would be heavily restricted in what they can actually do.

“We are delighted to be able to get the PIC Steelers training again but what’s really important here is that we are continuing to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our players, staff and the wider community,” he said.

“It is a positive step as we aim to make our return to the Bunnings Warehouse NPC.

“It will take some time to get the players ready to play again and this small step will help us start that preparation and hopefully cut down the time we’ll need to wait once Alert Levels in Auckland drop further.

“Ultimately, we continue to patiently wait and cross our fingers in the hopes that Auckland will get to Alert Level 2 as soon as possible.”

The three Auckland based teams have been unable to return to the Bunnings Warehouse NPC, with the region currently operating under COVID-19 Alert Level 3. The Government’s next Alert Level announcement is scheduled for Monday 4 October.  

“We are still hoping to be able to re-join the competition and complete the season,” Lawton said.

“The ability to start training is a step in the right direction.”