Rochdale Hornets loose forward Jordan Syme may have found himself without work due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean he is sitting back and doing nothing.
After his work as a carpet fitter dried up due to the current situation, he took his auntie up on her suggestion of volunteering for the NHS at Calderdale Royal Hospital, where she works as a supervisor.
“As a carpet fitter we’re not deemed as essential, and people wouldn’t want us in their houses at the moment anyway,” said 23 year-old Syme.
“So I wasn’t going to have any work and my auntie, who works at the hospital, she asked if I wanted to join the team and help out in any way that I could.
“I thought it would keep me busy and I have been enjoying it.
“I am portering at the moment. So I am ferrying people around the whole hospital. I’ll get assigned a job and take patients from the wards to wherever they need to go – like x-ray and places like that. I also help to move equipment supplies around as well.
“I’m not on the front line of things, but I can help take the pressure off some of those that are. By me doing whatever I can it can allow others to do what they need to do to deal with the virus and infected patients.
“When you’re in the environment of the NHS, it’s completely different to what you’d imagine, especially with everything that’s going on.
“You don’t realise the hours NHS staff work to help people out and this has given me a very different outlook on the work they do.
“I am really enjoying helping out, but hopefully I’ll just be doing this short-term before I am back to my normal life of carpet fitting and Rugby League.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman was full of praise for young loose forward Hanley Dawson, after he was named as League 1 Player of the Month in the current issue of Rugby League World magazine.
The 23 year-old joined Town in pre-season from amateur side Millom and has quickly found his feet at this level, having previously been on the books at Gloucestershire All Golds without featuring for the first team.
“That’s great for Hanley, and it’s fully deserved,” said Thorman.
“It’s testament to him that he’s come in and found his feet at this level so quickly.
“I was watching him throughout pre-season, and I saw him in some amateur rep games and some community games and I just thought that the kid definitely had something special.
“He’s gone from strength to strength while he’s been at the club and all his performances have been excellent.
“He’s a great lad, very professional and he’s very likeable in the group. He’s hard working and diligent and has all the attributes to be a great player. He’s fit, he’s tough, he’s skilful and I don’t think I’ll have to speak to him about keeping his feet on the ground because he’s not that way inclined. He won’t let it go to his head.
“He’s very coachable and he just needs to keep putting the work in when we get back to action and I’m sure he’s going to go on to bigger and better things.
“I have watched a lot of games in our league this year already and Hanley has been an absolute standout player.
“I know I am probably biased, because he’s my player, but I honestly do think he’s been the best player I have seen in the competition this year.”
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton admits he is having to put faith in his players doing what they have been asked to do during the current lockdown.
With training currently suspended, Hunslet, like all clubs, have given their players their own training programmes to follow. But that comes down to each individual’s determination to keep up with the programmes whilst in lockdown.
But Thornton believes he has recruited well enough this year to ensure that compliance won’t be an issue.
“It is difficult because we are relying in the players’ self-motivation and doing what they can with the current constraints,” said Thornton.
“It’s hard when gyms are closed because there is only so much they can do at home.
“But I’d like to think they are doing what they can. We have an honest and decent bunch of guys this year and we are sending them regular programmes.
“We’re asking them to maintain that level of fitness ready for when we get the green light to play again.
“We’ve not had any reports of any of them suffering symptoms of the virus or self-isolating, so we’re grateful for that, but it is still tough times for everyone.
“We worked really hard over the pre-season, so we don’t want that to be lost and we can hit the ground running when the game returns.
“Knowing the guys we’ve got, I’m sure they’ll still be buying in to this being a big season for us and wanting to build on what we’d already done before the lockdown.
“I am sure they do have that self-discipline within them and they’ll be doing what we’ve asked of them.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS supporters have stepped up to the plate as Rugby League and the country try to navigate through these unprecedented times.
Coming so soon after the club nearly went out of business with its financial difficulties, another major loss of cash flow due to the lack of home games will no doubt have sparked fears amongst fans that similar problems could strike again.
However, thanks to a small number of supporters those fears can be allayed.
“We got six new members joining Squad Builder within a week,” said Dave Proctor, who alongside his wife Margaret runs the club’s Squad Builder group.
“Two of those six new members have made a significant contribution, while the others have signed up to the £11 minimum monthly fee. £1 of that goes to Manorlands, our local hospice, with the remainder going into the Squad Builder fund, which is used exclusively to fund the playing strength of the club.
“At the moment it’s helping the club maintain payments to the players.
“The Cougars are at the heart of the community and the town, so it’s great to see that the supporters want to get behind the club at these tough times.
“There is no income at the club now, so if we can try to maintain some sort of contribution to the club we will and this is a really direct way of doing that.
“It’s a weight off the players’ minds at these hard times and they always appreciate what the fund does, because it’s direct recognition from the supporters.
“After previous financial difficulties, this can certain help allay any further fears for the club.”
Anyone else wishing to join the club’s Squad Builder group can contact the couple at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07980 893003.
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall has confirmed the club is among an increasing number in the game to furlough its playing staff.
While this means the government will cover 80 percent of their monthly salary, the club intends to top up its players’ wages to 100 percent for as long as possible.
Hall admits it was a tough call, but it was one that had to be taken to protect the club and look after the players.
“We just have to make sure everyone is safe at this unprecedented time,” said Hall.
“No one knows how long his is going to go on for, so we just have to be a bit cautious and try to do the right thing by everyone.
“Everyone still has bills to pay, kids to look after and families to feed. So we are trying to do what we can to make sure that they get as much as they can.
“It’s a stressful enough time without worrying about if your contract is going to get cut or not.
“Every club will do things differently, but our main focus is on our players and our club to ensure they are in a good frame of mind.”
Hall also confirmed Papua New Guinean Watson Boas is ready to return to South Yorkshire once the lockdown is lifted and games resume.
“Watson returned home for personal reasons way before all this kicked off,” added Hall.
“He was due to come back to us on Thursday, but with things being as they are, we just told him to sit tight there and he will come back as soon as we are ready to go.”
LONDON SKOLARS‘ new Chairman Adrian Fraine is confident that the club can survive the current Coronavirus crisis that has seen Rugby League action postponed indefinitely.
Fraine has taken over the top role at the club from Terry Browne, who stepped down last month alongside CEO and founder Hector McNeil.
“Without Hector there would be no Skolars in the first place,” said Fraine, who hails from Oldham and is a lifelong fan of the game.
“Without Hector and Terry over the last 17 years as a professional club, Skolars would not have achieved as much as we have done.
“Like all clubs, having worked through the winter when little revenue comes in, our key period for revenue generation is the early part of the season.
“We were looking to hold special events to celebrate our 25th anniversary this summer. None of us know how long it will be before the country is safe from Covid-19, or how long before we play again.
“London Skolars has always been a club that’s lived within our means. We’ve never borrowed our way to promotion and we’ve never fallen into administration. These are going to be difficult times, but I’m sure we can see our way through them.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray has said there has been no indication so far that the club will have to make financial changes during the shutdown of the game.
Many clubs have had to furlough staff to ensure they get through the current global crisis after losing the cash flow brought in by their league matches.
“As far as I am aware things will be okay,” said Murray.
“We don’t have any contract payments for players, because they get paid as they play. So with no games, the club isn’t having to find the money to pay them.
“There are some salaried staff though, including me, but I haven’t been told that anything is changing.
“So as it stands at the moment, the club is running as normally as possible.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey is confident his side will be fit and raring to go, as and when the season gets going again.
The Raiders went into lockdown nursing injuries to key players Jarrad Stack (knee) and Nathan Mossop, but they are likely to have both back once the on-field action returns.
And it is not lost on Crarey how vital a fit squad could be later in the year.
“We’ll probably have to play Sundays and Wednesdays when we come back, just to make some time up,” said Crarey.
“We have a small squad this year, but a silver lining to all this break is that Jarrad Stack will be flying by then. He was almost ready to come back for the scheduled North Wales league game.
“Also, if we struggle to get Wartovo Puara back in the country in time for us starting again then Nathan Mossop will be ready to go, as will my son Joe, who played and scored in the pre-season game against North Wales.
“He tore some ligaments in his wrist, but he’s fit and ready to go again now.
“We’ll have a healthy squad whenever we start to play again and we’ll need it, because there won’t be any breaks and it will be week in, week out. We all need to be ready for that.”
COVENTRY BEARS director of rugby Alan Robinson believes his players will be ready to return to action when the game resumes, and he knows they have to look after their mental health during these difficult times, as much as their physical health.
All the Bears’ players are on pay-as-they-play contracts, meaning none of them will be receiving any income from the club while the game remains inactive.
But for Robinson, they still have the motivation to keep themselves in shape for when the game does return.
“The boys all know where they stand,” said Robinson.
“We’ve given them all things to do on their own and they are all good guys, so they’re all staying in touch and we’re talking to them on a daily basis.
“We’re keeping everyone engaged and Richard Squires (first-team coach) is looking at doing some video work with the group to keep everyone fresh with regards to our structure and how we want to play.
“But it’s as much about the lads keeping their heads in right place and looking after their families.
“If they are able to keep a healthy mind and healthy body, we can hopefully get back up and running and pick things up a bit better.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has found himself taking up something of a new career because of the Coronavirus pandemic and it’s one he admits he is not totally comfortable with.
Thunder are one of an increasing number of clubs that has been forced to furlough staff members and reduce the wages of others in response to the global health crisis.
And, like many people, Finnigan has found himself in the uncomfortable position of home schooling during this unprecedented down time.
“It’s definitely different,” said Finnigan.
“I have three kids all in school, and one of them is in high school, so the degree of learning I’m having to produce isn’t really my strong point.
“I’m okay with the year three work, which is probably my sort of level, but when we go up to the year five and high school work I am probably learning more than I’m giving out.
“But I am getting some quality times with the family and, when we go out for daily exercise, we always see other family groups and stop and chat across the road.
“If you can take a pleasing aspect out of this whole situation it’s that families are out together in their little groups. A month ago you’d have never seen that as much.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS’ centre Emosi Nadaubale is taking inspiration from a Super League flyer as he looks to progress his career.
He and his team-mate Robert Matamosi are both Fijians currently serving in the British Army. While also helping the Raiders develop as a club, they are also looking to make a name for themselves in the game.
“With West Wales you have to be prepared to get stuck in, because we are having a tough time,” Nadaubale told Totalrl.com.
“We have improved this year, with a new coach, and hopefully we can start winning more games after the season starts again.
“Hopefully Robert and I can play well and follow Ratu Naulago into the sport. We played for the Army Sevens team together.
“He gives us all hope that we can make the grade professionally. I’ve been looking up to him. I would love to do what he’s done.”
*To read the full interview visit https://www.totalrl.com/from-the-fields-of-fiji-to-the-battlefield-west-wales-duo-look-to-emulate-ratu-naulago/