Sale Sharks, who stand second in the Gallagher Premiership, are planning to recall their Springboks players who have returned to South Africa by the middle of next month to prepare for a continuation of the season this summer.

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Official confirmation of Premiership Rugby’s plans to try and finish the season, which has only completed rounds 13 rounds, are due to be revealed later today and England’s leading clubs will have to start mapping out their training plans – if the current lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

With rugby suspended, it is understood that Sale Sharks’ Springboks – headed by Faf de Klerk and the three Du Preez brothers Rob, Dan and Jean Luc – travelled home to South Africa along with World Cup-winning lock Lood de Jager who has just revealed on social media that his wife is pregnant.

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The players are likely to leave for England in the middle of next month to ensure they can take part in what will be effectively a second pre-season build-up with number of airlines are still flying to South Africa, although domestic flights are not due to start again until April 16. Hard running centre Rohan Janse van Rensburgh remained in England during the lockdown.

Meanwhile, new Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber, who has taken over from Rassie Erasmus, has been using the internet to hold a “virtual” alignment camp for the World Cup winners. “We are in unusual times and with lockdown in place, we have to use unusual methods to keep in contact with our players,” Nienaber told SA Rugby’s website.”We have just finished another alignment camp using software from Microsoft, our official cloud partners, to communicate with the players and other coaches.

“We are working hard behind the scenes from home, and using the internet, to prepare the players in the best possible way. We need to stay focused and prepare them tactically and mentally for the challenges ahead.”

The Boks head coach has been trying to keep himself fit and revealed: “My wife and I are keen runners, but in these times where we can’t venture outside, so we need to be creative in the way that we train.”We did a ‘garden run’ the other day and while it’s not ideal, it got the job done.”

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