Stormers coach John Dobson fears for his players’ mental health if they have to remain in a bio-bubble for three months to play rugby.
As it stands, the Stormers and the rest of the South Africa's rugby teams don’t have a clue as to where, when and if, they are going to play rugby this year.
With the coronavirus pandemic having brought a halt to Super Rugby action in March, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) is still waiting on government approval for them to kick off again and stage a domestic tournament.
It is believed that this local tournament will pit the four Super Rugby franchises the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and the Lions against the Kings, Cheetahs, Griquas and the Pumas in a double-round competition.
Currently aiming for a return to action at the end of August, the big decision is whether to have the tournament in a bio-bubble or whether teams will fly in for a game and then pack up straight afterwards to fly back home.
It sounds like the key roleplayers in the game are leaning towards the latter option, with the fear of cabin fever among the players being one of their biggest bargaining tools.
Dobson, who reckons mid- September is a more realistic return date, explains: “I think, mentally, the bio-bubble for such a long tournament is going to be really tough - if we’re going to go up from mid-September until after Christmas.
“Three months in a [bubble], I think mentally it’s going to be asking a lot.
“I know it’s one of Saru’s concerns - the sort of mental toll in it.”
If government does decide on a bubble return, there is still big uncertainty as to where it will be.
Originally Gauteng was the frontrunner, but now there is even talk of Cape Town hosting the teams.
Dobson adds with a chuckle of his preference: “Obviously I don’t want it [the tournament] to be in Loxton or Carnarvon because you want something to do.
“Our preferred [venue] is not a bio-bubble, but we’ll take anything that’s required. It’s important that we play...
“If it’s a three-month thing, that’s going to be tough.”