ACT Brumbies backs Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper were last night off-limits from teammates as a gastric and diarrhoea virus threatened to leave the entire squad bed-ridden.
The pair have spent the past 36 hours vomiting and suffering diarrhoea.
Peter Fitzgerald reports for the Canberra Times that the Brumbies medical staff quarantined the duo into separate rooms and ordered them to have no contact with teammates for at least another 24 hours in a bid to prevent the virus spreading.
Their illness comes a day after prop Ben Alexander was a late withdrawal from the Super 14 game against the Cape Town Stormers at Newlands.
Alexander suffered the same type of illness as Mortlock and Ashley-Cooper.
The 23-year-old ate at a pizza and pasta restaurant in Cape Town the night before the Stormers game with some of his teammates.
Neither Mortlock or Ashley-Cooper ate at the same restaurant, leaving Brumbies doctor Warren McDonald unconvinced it was a bout of food poisoning.
Alexander began feeling ill at 1am the morning of the Stormers game and “spent the next 30 hours on the dunny every hour on the hour doing fairly unpleasant things”.
“I was crook as a dog, I had no energy, I was either spewing or had the diarrhoea for what seemed like an eternity,” he said.
“I was vomiting a bit of blood as well when there was no food left to bring up. I initially thought it was food poisoning because the pizza came up and every time I thought of the pizza I’d go and vomit again.”
Alexander lost between three and four kilograms due to the illness. He trained yesterday in what was his first form of exercise since falling ill.
Mortlock and Ashley-Cooper were bed-ridden yesterday as the team had its first full training session since its loss to Cape Town.
McDonald insisted they stay away from teammates and ordered no exercise for at least another 24 hours.
“They’re settling slowly, they’re resting today and we’ll monitor them again tomorrow,” he said.
“They’re still unwell but we remain hopeful they will pick up in the near future and that nobody else will go down with something similar.”
As of late last night (Monday morning South African time), no other Brumby was showing symptoms of the mystery illness.
“It’s a common risk over here and while we take all precautions and encourage good hygiene, there are times where things are out of your control,” McDonald said.
“We can’t identify a link between Ben’s illness and others. Things like this are very contagious but Ben was sharing a room with Guy Shepherdson in Cape Town before we separated them and Guy has shown no symptoms the past few days.”
The loss of the duo would be a major blow to the Brumbies as they try to finish the season in style, starting against the Pretoria Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday morning.
Coach Laurie Fisher accepted the illnesses had come at a frustrating time, but hoped they wouldn’t have any major bearing on team selection.
“Fingers crossed it’s just a 24-48 hour thing, nobody else gets it and we’ll all be fine a bit later in the week, but who knows what will happen [in] the next day or two,” he said.Tweet