Press Pass with Nic Groom
Get the latest from scrum-half Nic Groom as he this week spoke with media in the continued build-up to this month's Guinness PRO14 resumption.
How did you manage in lockdown?
"In the beginning it was really unique. There was almost a bit of comfort in the fact we were all in this together. From then on it was kind of a rollercoaster of good days and bad days.
"I think it's a different experience being a professional athlete in lockdown. There is a certain skill set required in a rugby player. For me, kicking and passing and then the more physical side, which are very hard to re-enact by yourself. As well as that you have equipment issues.
"You go for a couple of months when you cannot really practice your craft. At the end of the day, that's what secures your job.
"On the social and fun side of things, when the weather has played along I've been able to take my young family to the beach and that has been good.
"People back home in South Africa have had a really tough lockdown compared to ours. That made the fact we could go outside or go for a run a lot more manageable."
How did you keep in contact with others during this period?
"I speak to my family a lot back home. In a weird way, when things were at the height of being the strictest, I spent a lot of time catching up with them. I found ways to connect with old friends, and if it wasn't for this thing we possibly wouldn't have met up in that way.
"As a squad, in the beginning we made an effort once a week to log on and catch up. But when you don't know how long it's going to go on it becomes harder and harder. You almost need to find other ways to manage the situation. With no end in sight, these things become quite hard.
"Initially we thought we were going to be in this for four or five weeks. Logging on on a Friday evening with the rest of the squad to have a chat and a laugh was awesome, but by week five, week six, you’re kind of going ‘Hang on, we're just talking about the same stuff we talked about last time!'
"I'm sure everyone gets a bit of Zoom fatigue or whatever you want to call it. Your expectations of what's going to happen in the near future determines your appetite for these things so the toughest part was not knowing when we were going to start again."
How was it returning to training and did you quickly gain confidence?
"There was a stage when I think everyone just too much time in their own head, thinking in circles. The better way to look at it was to think I'm not going to forget how to pass or how to kick. There are all sorts of things you can do to visualise your skill. Coming back, having that perspective was great.
"I started with my kicking and passing, the building blocks, and everything has flowed nicely from there. How do you get confidence in something? It often from past experience. My experience meant that I knew how to kick and how to pass and I just had to get into that mindset.
"It was about being away I hadn't done it for a while, but the skills were there and I just needed to sharpen up again."
How do you feel next week's match against Glasgow Warriors will go?
"I have no idea, it’s so hard to say. Normally we have a warm-up game under our belts but this is one of those scenarios that’s impossible to re-enact. You’ve just got to try and prepare as best you can.
"I hope there will be a bit more freedom because we’re not walking in with heavy amounts of analysis and there’s nothing we can review, so we’ll look for more opportunities for people to express themselves.
"Hopefully the results will be that guys who have only been able to focus on their own games will be able to paint a different picture. If you’ve got hours of footage then you know exactly how they play and they know exactly how you play, but no-one knows exactly where they are at the moment. It could go either way."
With Edinburgh so close to a place in the Semi-Finals, how will you be approaching these fixtures?
"The history between these two teams means that this will be full-on. If there’s any complacency there then you’ll lose. These highly charged games don’t just come down to the best side necessarily winning, there are other factors at play. We need to do all we can to make sure we’re on the right side of the result.
"We know that a win gets us a home Semi-Final, which is really important to us."