These days the job of the medical staff is a vital one as they work together with the head coach to ensure the coach has, as far as possible, a fully fit squad to work from.
According to van der Merwe, the outlook for the season ahead is a positive one; this is what he had to say:
“I’m very happy with the fitness levels the guys have shown since they returned from the break. Last season we worked on specific routines for different players, depending on their personal attributes. We did preventative rehab work as well which has also helped minimise injuries.
“During the off-season the players were given programmes to follow, mainly strength training and muscle building programmes.
“I’ve been pleased to see that they have worked on their programmes, and taken them seriously - we could see the difference when the players returned – they looked strong.
“At the moment the squad overall is in good shape. Because we are playing friendly games, there have been one or two players with slight knocks, but nothing serious.
“When this does happen, the players continue to train if possible, but not in a full capacity. Its important that they remain fresh for when the season starts and are not over-worked.
“We’ve played quite a few friendly games against smaller teams, but at this stage of pre-season the team begins to take on ‘like for like’ sides. Last weekend we had two games against AmaZulu, which enabled most players to get a full 90 minutes – an important aspect at this stage of preparations.
“It gives them the confidence to know they are in good shape, and it enables us to assess them properly. We have another friendly in KZN this weekend, possibly against Golden Arrows, and then we continue our preparations with four games up in Johannesburg.”