DANNY WILSON says he is quietly confident that his Glasgow Warriors team will be able to return to action this Saturday after their Covid lay-off during the festive period, but has warned that the threat has not completely subsided. He added that a number of squad members are still self-isolating, and expressed concern that if the 10-day rule in Scotland is not reduced to seven, in line with the rest of the UK, then his side could be unfairly disadvantaged against the Ospreys of Wales in the United Rugby Championship this weekend and Exeter Chiefs in the European Champions Cup seven days later.
“Things are as back to normal as it can be,” said the coach. “There is still bits and pieces going on but it’s a lot better than we were, so having that firebreak is a positive thing in that sense.
“For us, the ideal situation would have been to keep going as we were hitting some form and we had a good run of games together coming up, but I am confident that we can pick that form up again straight away, and hopefully this next run of games will allow us to do that.
“Ospreys will be strong – they will want to play as they have missed a few games, just as we want to play as we have missed a few games – so it will be two strong teams that will go at it,” he added. “It makes for quite an exciting game, where fourth plays fifth in the league.
“If we win, we jump into the top four which is where we want to be, so there is a lot riding on this match. It is a massive game and then we are back into two European games.”
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is due to give a Covid update at lunchtime tomorrow [Wednesday], when it is widely anticipated that she will bring the self-isolation period down to seven days, but if that doesn’t happen then Wilson fears he may be forced to leave some players he would like to pick out of his team because they have not had sufficient time to get back up to speed.
“We are lateral flow testing every day and we are PCR testing a couple of times a week as a minimum in the lead up to the game,” he explained. “The problem is we still get the dribs and drabs of people having to isolate for 10 days, and if the dribs and drabs come in a position where you are short or don’t have real depth it can cause real problems.
“You are always going to have a percentage of injuries and that can be between 10 and 20 percent [of the squad], then on top of that it is the vast amount of covid issues, and the big thing for me which is very different to elsewhere in the UK is the fact we have to have the boys who have a household contact isolating for ten days.
“Number-wise, I couldn’t confirm [how many players are still isolating] at the moment. There are some boys coming out of isolation in the next 24 to 48 hours, but there are one or two who will be a bit later.
“And what we’re finding is that with 10 days of not doing anything, we’ve got to make sure they’re conditioned and ready to go again.
“If they come out the day of the game or the day before it, they’re not going to be available for that game even though they’re probably medically fit to play.”
“There’s a whole balancing act that goes with it and it’s a much bigger challenge than anything I’ve ever experienced in coaching,” he added.
““You’re not just trying to manage your squad and injuries; you’re now trying to manage Covid and isolation periods and how we return people after 10 days sat in their flat not being able to do anything.
“If you think of the amount of issues we had which led to games being called off, those issues are then [with you for] ten days. There’s a knock-on effect – we might not get any more positives, but we’re waiting for boys to return from a 10-day isolation period, then waiting to make sure they’re ready to go.
“Some of them will come out of isolation and be in a condition where they’re ready to go. Some of them might not have been able to do anything, might not have had any equipment, so we’ve got to make sure they’re ok to go.”
Those players who are not currently isolating had their first full training session as a squad at Toryglen Regional Football Centre today [Tuesday] because the pitches at Scotstoun were frozen.
“We came back in on Monday for a very light, very Covid-safe session and testing,” said Wilson. “We got our results today so that was the first day we fully trained.
“The boys in the building now are fit to go. It’s the boys who we can’t access, the ones who are still isolating.”
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