Gill, who has been with the All Blacks for 13 years, featured on Sky Sport’s Breakdown earlier this week. He explained that it was a bit of a scramble to get players organised.
“On the Monday just before level 4 was announced, we already had a number of the guys out shopping for stuff for home, because we anticipated this [lockdown] was going to happen. I know the All Blacks lads put their hands into their pockets and invested quite heavily into their home set up. A lot of the All Blacks players have home gyms and some cardio equipment like assault bikes or treadmills, so most of the senior props are fully set up at home.
There are a few people with makeshift set ups and some of the Super Rugby clubs have emptied their own gyms and delivered stuff to players, so that everyone had some gear at home.”
Gill said it’s been a busy time for All Blacks management, and they’ve been on a lot of Zoom meetings over the last week. He said while the remainder of the year is up in the air, they have to keep planning for any situation.
“It’s all about communication and making sure we are well planned. We don’t know when rugby is going to be played again, but we have to make sure we do everything we can to make sure athletes are physically ready, but more importantly looking after themselves mentally and that they have structures and connections in place with family and team mates. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, but the Super Rugby clubs are doing a great job.”
Gill was asked about full contact training and how long players would need to get back into collision and contact before they return to play.
“When you are locked around in your bubble, you can’t exactly go tackling your kids or run into brick walls or anything like that. That’s the hardest thing to be ticking off and obviously the people running the game are asking the same question about what’s doable.
If we put our player safety hat on, it’s about how quickly can we progress collision and contact and put players on the field and not have their welfare at stake. I think the absolute bare minimum is two weeks, ideally it would be three.”
With Investec Super Rugby starting earlier this year, players and coaches had a bit of practice in January where players were on leave for a couple of weeks over Christmas and came back in and played preseason two weeks later.
Gill said, like everyone else in the country, players have been encouraged to look at the silver linings to this situation.
“Whether you are a rugby player or running a small business, there are opportunities to spend some time working on some areas. They might be strengths or weaknesses, but we have a chance to get some work in. Physically as well, just being around our loved ones. It’s actually a really good opportunity to spend some time with each other.”