Rebels' \"Shed of Dread\" in line for comeback when team training resumes

Mon, May 11, 2020, 6:57 AM
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
The Shed of Dread was the Rebels' temporary gym at the beginning of the coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Getty Images
The Shed of Dread was the Rebels' temporary gym at the beginning of the coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Getty Images

The Rebels may have to revive their "Shed of Dread" as they prepare for the need to be creative with their gym work on their training return.

All of Australia's Super Rugby franchises are preparing for imminent training resumptions with the Brumbies and Waratahs set to be the first to reunite in groups of 10 on Tuesday.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews announced plans to roll back restrictions this week with professional teams able to resume training in groups of 10 from Wednesday.

Professional sports were reportedly also cleared to do contact training as part of that announcement, something that will particularly benefit the NRL's Melbourne Storm in their looming competition return.

The Rebels won't rush to get their full squad back in this week though, with rugby still likely two months away from a competition resumption.

"We were hopeful of making that transition to category B (under AIS framework) and we'll start off with skills and fitness for the first cycle before going into contact," Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said.

AAMI park has a host of professional sporting team tenants. Photo: Getty Images"I'd say regardless of what's in place around that, the fact that rugby doesn't have the same time pressure as some of the other codes, it makes sense, given we've had an extensive break, that we would obviously build up training from scratch given we've got six or seven or weeks until first game.

"So, we've got time to do that with less urgency, we don't have to go straight in."

Stephenson, who is also on Rugby Australia's Return to Play Committee said the Rebels had already made a plan more than a week ago to bring all their interstate-based players back to Melbourne by the end of this week and return to business as close to usual as possible on May 18, regardless of government restrictions.

"We made a call probably about 10 days ago and decided we would have all players back in Melbourne by the end of this week and start collectively as a team on Monday 18th," he said.

"That'll put us slightly behind the other teams but that was mostly governed by the uncertainty around our facility facility and the government restrictions and health policies."

Stephenson said they would aim to be back up and running on Monday May 18, by which time all four Super Rugby sides will be training in small groups under government restrictions.

The complication for the Rebels, though, could come after that as they look for a temporary venue for their strength and conditioning work.

Melbourne is the only team of the Australian Super Rugby franchises that shares its gym facilities, something that is currently banned under the coronavirus-related restrictions.

The Rebels have in recent seasons used Collingwood's Glasshouse Gym but that will be unavailable while the gym inside AAMI Park is used by the Storm, who are returning to Melbourne later this week after a stint in Albury.

When Super Rugby first shut down in March, the Rebels set up the "Shed of Dread" next to Gosch's Paddock outside AAMI Park and that's an option they might have to entertain once again in the short-term.

Stephenson said the Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust that runs the AAMI Park precinct would help the club try and secure another venue.

"The biggest challenge at AAMI park is actually access to the gym," he said.

"We've used Collingwood's gym in the past but the government restrictions are now that gyms have to be self-contained.

"The Victory, the Storm and the Demons when they come back also use the AAMI Park facilities so we're going to need to be creative and innovative around that.

"We're working through that stuff with Aami Park at the moment. It might have to be pretty basic and primitive but that's fine.

"Our strength and conditioning staff will use whatever resources we've got and we'll also look at some other potential spaces."

Stephenson also said that no official approval had been given for Rugby Australia's new Super Rugby competition that is hoped will start in July.

Rugby AU submitted its biosecurity plans to the federal government last week and it is expected that a date will be confirmed this week for rugby's return.

New Zealand Rugby announced its plans for a June 13 kick-off in its Super Rugby Aotearoa on Monday, the first of the SANZAAR nations to confirm a new competition schedule.

The NRL has ploughed ahead towards a May 28 resumption date while the AFL has travelled a similar path to rugby with plans for a mid-June restart.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio said he wasn't worried by the fact rugby was yet to finalise a date amid some off-field turmoil.

"I think our sport was always going to take a tad longer, there's a lot of different factors at play," he said.

"The biggest one being an international competition there. A lot of different factors that we have to take our time with and make sure that we're putting the best interests of everyone first there.

"AFL and NRL have the luxury of being mainly a domestic competition so it's about making sure they look after what's happening here in Australia.

"We had to make sure we're running the same protocols as every other country as well and running along side them and showing that cooperation amongst the world there with rugby union. We understand it is a global game.

"It was going to take a little bit of time but I think we're all moving in the right direction at the moment now and there's a lot of positive signs for the game moving forward."

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