The Munster squad stepped up preparations on Monday for the return of the Guinness PRO14 campaign in August as they trained for the first time in groups of up to 14 players at the High Performance Centre in Limerick.
The lifting of further Government Covid-19 restrictions from Monday morning enabled head coach Johann van Graan’s squad to transition from training pods of seven players to up to twice that number, split into three groups for the start of their second week together since the 2019-20 season was suspended in early March.
The Irish provinces will resume the league campaign with two rounds of interprovincial PRO14 derbies at Aviva Stadium on successive weekends, August 22 and 29.
Aside from a carefully managed reintroduction to training workloads following the lockdown, the Munster squad is continuing to operate under strict health and hygiene protocols following a round of Covid-19 testing that produced no positive results among players and staff in any of the four provinces.
There is to be no interaction between the training groups and players are still unable to use showers, dressing rooms, kitchen or video analysis rooms during their time at the HPC, simply arriving, training, and then returning straight home.
Following a one-way system around the centre on the University of Limerick campus, players are subject to daily thermal temperature checks on arrival which can deliver a body temperature reading within two seconds and thus alert staff to abnormal readings.
A temperature higher than 37.5C and/or a red flag from a daily questionnaire filled out on arrival by players leads to intervention by medical staff as to the next course of action.
Still unable to train are Chris Cloete and CJ Stander, who are continuing to self-isolate for the mandatory 14-day period having arrived from South Africa last week.