A challenge of Covid proportions - April 28, 2022
It takes a lot to rattle the usually unflappable Reinga Bloxham but she admits the past couple of weeks have certainly tested her resolve.
Facing the prospect of just two fully-fit players available for Saturday’s round 8 match against the Trident Homes Tactix at ILT Stadium Southland, the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel head coach has been forced to seek a reprieve under the ANZ Premiership’s Covid-19 Postponement Policy.
Covid has ruled out the rest of the team who are either isolating or still to meet return to play protocols after recovering from the virus. Therefore, the game has now been rescheduled to Wednesday, 4 May, at 7.10pm.
“At this rate, Jo (assistant coach Jo Morrison) and I might have to get our sneakers on,” Bloxham quipped.
“We always knew this season was going to be challenging but even then it has, unfortunately, exceeded our expectations.
“Initially we managed to avoid any infections while other teams battled with it but now it has well and truly made its way to the deep south.
“It’s a tough gig at the moment. Absolutely we have some talented fringe players who are capable of stepping into the void as replacements, but we simply don’t have enough manpower to cover 80 percent of our team.”
The Steel’s two games against the Splice Construction Magic were postponed last week, taking the tally of rescheduled games to four.
“It does add a huge amount of pressure at the end of the season, both physically and mentally, to play catch up but our main priority is ensuring our players return to the court safely and their wellbeing is paramount,” Bloxham said.
“I have every confidence our players will step up to the challenge and we are focusing on ensuring they have all the support needed to perform at their best under these circumstances.
“We are incredibly fortunate the ANZ Premiership initiated a robust policy around Covid which has allowed all teams a degree of flexibility when needed.
“Logistically it has been a nightmare but we aren’t the only parties impacted – it’s everyone from our loyal fans to our venues, broadcasters and officials who help make these games a reality.”
Bloxham has been impressed by her team’s ability to adapt to the “fluid” nature of this year’s ANZ Premiership.
“There is a strong degree of unity which stems from adversity and I think we will continue to see that out on court from the Steel as the season progresses.”