The team arrived back in South Africa in mid-February after tournaments in Los Angeles and Vancouver, and had to do 14 days compulsory self-isolation due to the COVID-19-regulations at the time. The day after that finished, the national lockdown was announced.
But Branco du Preez took it in his stride, he said on the second episode of SA Rugby’s new podcast series, which is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
“I decided on the very first day of the lockdown to make it work from a fitness perspective – luckily, my garage is a sort of safe space for me and I go there to work-out on my own quite often,” said Du Preez.
“I have some car tires and filled five litre water bottles for weights, and it work like a charm.”
The 'quiet time' doing his work-out routine is not that quiet though with some of his favourite songs playing in the background while Du Preez pushes himself to maintain his already high fitness levels.
The Blitzboks are being lauded all around the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament stops for their fitness and ability to win matches that seems a lost cause.
Du Preez recalled three of those in a recent podcast on www.springboks.rugby, reflecting on three amazing comebacks – all from a position of 19-0 down on the scoreboard.
The first was against Australia in Vancouver in 2018, then followed Fiji in Singapore in 2019, and earlier this year, against the current World Series champions again in Los Angeles, where they outplayed Fiji 29-24 in a dramatic final.
Du Preez ascribed those “never say die” moments to the way they train.
“We push each other to the limit at training and that is why we can replicate that in matches,” he said.
“Every training session is punishing and there is no place to hide, your teammates would not allow you to do so. That instil that attitude of never giving up in the squad.”
Du Preez is South Africa's most capped player in the World Series, having played in 75 tournaments, but clearly is not resting on his laurels.
"When I am in my garage exercising, I go into my zone and make sure that I apply myself. The same on the field. You go through your routines and execute,” he said.
Pictures: Gallo Images / Ashley Vlotman