West Wales Raiders halfback Dan Price has had an eye-opening month.
Not only has he had to get used to a new career since his move to Llanelli, but also that new career has seen him play a central role in the current Covid-19 health crisis.
Following his move to the club, Price swapped a job on a building site in Widnes to start a new career as a carer with Simply Safe Care Group, which is a company owned by Raiders’ Chairman Andrew Thorne.
“I work with people aged from 40, right up to my oldest client who is 98 years old,” explained Price.
“I travel from house to house helping them with simple tasks that we take for granted but that they need help with – things like washing and feeding themselves.
“They suffer from illnesses like MS, Parkinson’s and are all at different stages of their illness, so we see the whole spectrum.
“At the moment we’re having to be extra vigilant and we get loads of emails every day in regards to any coronavirus updates and what we need to look out for in case any of our clients are showing any of the symptoms.
“But because we care for them on a consistent basis, we do notice if they’re a bit under the weather or if there is a change in them. If we do notice anything we have to report it straight away.
“I’m fairly new to the job, so going from construction into care was an eye-opener in itself. But since the coronavirus pandemic has come about, it’s really hit home how serious this really is and how much I am on the front line.”
Whilst it might still be a while before Price is back out on the pitch for the Raiders, he is hoping that when the game does return, he might have found a few new supporters to get behind the club.
“There are a few people that I visit that are interested in the game and always ask me when we’ll be back playing, so some might want to try and get to a game when it’s back,” added Price.
“But if not, it’s giving them something else to talk about and get involved with when I visit, rather just the usual ‘how have you been’ chat.
“I’ve missed rugby, but this job is helping me take my mind off that.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray has said it is a relief that he currently doesn’t have to think about training and games after a tough day at work.
While he’s doesn’t work for the NHS or in retail, Murray has still found himself on the frontline of the coronavirus battle with his role for Wigan Council.
“I have been working for the Council for about 19 years now and I have always maintained all the green spaces you see around with parks, leisure areas and around housing areas,” explained Murray.
“But recently I have moved into a supervisor role, and now with the current situation it’s all about cleansing these areas as well as making sure waste is collected and things like that, so in a way I am classed as frontline staff.
“The pressure really is on now to keep things clean and hygienic, and helping make sure services, which are deemed as essential, continue.
“Generally looking after waste collections wouldn’t normally directly be my job, but with people not able to come into work and having to isolate, we’re all being pulled together to keep things moving.
“It’s been a tough few weeks, but I have still got my health, so I can’t complain.
“We’re living in very strange times and after all the hard work we put in during pre-season, we should be up and running by now, but it’s got to be and we’re just trying to keep sprits up
“In a way though it has been good to be able to come in from work and try to switch off a little bit and not have to think about going back out to training or getting ready for games.
“But if I could get the rugby back tomorrow I would.”
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton admits he has been pleased with how both his players and the club’s board have handled the difficulties that have come with the current health crisis affecting the whole world.
The new board only took the club on ahead of the new season and could not have envisaged trying to negotiate their way through the current crisis.
“The current board of directors have been outstanding and what a baptism of fire it has been for Ken Sykes, our new Chairman,” said Thornton.
“Damien Irvine is still involved as a non-executive director and he’s supporting everyone really well too.
“They have all been fantastic in dealing with the RFL, seeing what support we can get and looking at the government guidelines.
“They have been feeding that information through on a daily basis.
“To say that they are all volunteers, they have left no stone unturned and are doing everything they possibly can to make sure the club stays financially viable, as well as giving me as much support as I need with the players.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the board of directors. They have been terrific.”
The players have also been affected by accepting furlough terms in line with existing contracts, with other payments based on win bonuses so far this season being shared equally.
“One of the factors behind me signing and retaining players was character, and that’s certainly been very evident in the lads’ collective attitude to the current situation.
“That positive approach is one of the reasons for us currently being top of the table and will hopefully put us in a strong position to secure promotion as and when the 2020 campaign resumes.
“All we need now is for the coronavirus crisis to pass, and to get back into action.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS assistant coach Dean Muir has said he and head coach Rhys Lovegrove have been able to see over the last few weeks that they recruited correctly over the winter.
The players have come up with many innovative ways to carry on training during the coronavirus lockdown, and for Muir that shows what character they have within the squad.
“Being limited as to where and when we can go out means we can’t do much, but they all have access to a ball,” said Muir.
“They are all doing workouts at home and keeping themselves ticking over. It’s not the same as being in training together, but they are all in touch with each other.
“We’re doing different tasks and putting quizzes on the group chats to try and keep everyone together. We also have the team manager in there working with the guys on their mental health, because some of them are isolating alone.
“That’s why it important we keep them together as a group and some of the more experienced guys are sending a lot of words and advice in on the chats as well.
“They have all got their own things to work on, whether that’s backrowers changing lines at speed, which they can do in their gardens. We’ve given then some catch and pass stuff they can work on using the target of a wall or aiming for a post. Some have made tackle dummies out of pillows and jackets and they are practising wrestling techniques.
“They are sending videos in so we know they’re doing it.
“I am delighted with the way the players have reacted. Rhys and I have spoken about this, how they are really supportive of each other.
“Rhys wanted a good people at the club to create a strong squad and I think he’s really achieved that aim.”
BARROW RAIDERS Chairman Steve Neale has said preparations have started to secure the long-term future of the club.
While he admits the club is not in immediate danger, he does believe thing will need to change before the country is taken out of its current lockdown and the game returns to action.
Neale has confirmed the Raiders are looking at several different options, and are currently waiting on a number of parties to respond.
“From a Barrow Raiders perspective, we have done pretty much all we can to secure our future financially,” Neale wrote in his North West Evening Mail column.
“We have now done our calculations, working out the likely shortfall in income against the savings in expenditure, and come up with a number.
“We will need to take advantage of the business interruption loan scheme with an application for that gap or pretty soon all the cash we hold in the bank will have disappeared.
“Whilst this is an obvious concern we do have a few weeks before this becomes grave.
“The worry is that we made initial contact with our bank and they have so far not got back in touch, despite an online promise to do so within 24 hours.
“From all reports these loans are not reaching businesses as quickly as needed and as a result some are going to the wall or seeking administration.
“Similarly, the furlough scheme will be a saviour in terms of paying 80 percent of our staff’s salary, but the reality is that we can’t even expect the online portal to go live until the end of the month at the earliest and no doubt there will be further delays before we can get our hands on some much needed cash.
“There were grants available for the leisure sector via the local council and we have made an application, but once again there has been nothing forthcoming.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS‘ incoming Chairman Andy Mazey believes the changes the club has made during the current health -, as well as the new initiatives they have launched, will be enough to get it through these troubled times.
As well as all non-contracted staff taking time away from the club and many of the contracted staff agreeing to reduced wages, the club has also changed how its lottery scheme works and it has launched a Squadbuilder programme.
“At this time we’re going to need the support of our fans,” said Mazey.
“The club lottery is usually very heavily dependent on door knockers and people collecting money. But that can’t happen now so we have set up a platform where people can access it, join up and pay online.
“It means we can still get the funds in.
“We have also launched a Squadbuilder initiative. I had a lot of success with something similar at Swinton, where it was called Pridebuilder. It’s the same concept but we’ll be doing it differently.
“It means supporters can contribute to help fund the squad during this suspension and beyond.
“These are unprecedented times and we have to think outside the box and rely on innovation and the digital side of things from now.
“We hope all of this is enough to see us through.
“With us being new to the club we had a budget set out that we were confident was the right one. Obviously this situation is difficult because it affects cash flow more than anything.
“But we have a plan in place to get us through these lean times, and we are confident we’ll be one of the strong ones and come out the other side.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall believes Rugby League and the 2021 World Cup can take advantage of an upsurge in international sporting events next year.
The Olympic Games and European Football Championships, that were both due to take place this summer, have been put back to 2012 because of the coronavirus crisis, with Rugby League’s 2021 World Cup so far unaffected.
“Everyone likes to take the positives out of any situation and the fact that the World Cup isn’t being affected is just that,” said Hall, who will see his club’s Keepmoat Stadium host three games in the tournament.
“We’re very lucky that this is not the World Cup year, not just for my club, but the whole game over here.
“Jon Dutton and his team have done an immense amount of work to make this the best and biggest World Cup and that gives us all something to look forward to.
“The World Cup is going to be a big and successful event for us anyway, but if we can jump on the back of things like the football and the Olympics, then that will be great.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said it is difficult to keep up to date with what his players are doing in their time away from the club.
The players are currently following their own training programmes away from the club, and while he is sure they will all be completing what they have been asked to do, Finnigan admits it is not possible to keep track of who is doing what and when.
“It’s difficult times because everyone is trying to find things to do in the confines of their own space,” said Finnigan.
“All the players have been sent programmes to do at home, but it is hard because there is not much you can say or do with them, so when we speak to them, so we end up going over the same sort of things.
“And now that most people are off work there is no time frame for them to work to. They have all day and all night to work things out and do what we have asked them to do.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has admitted he has built his squad differently this year when compared to previous campaigns, and that he will continue to run with what he has once the game resumes.
“We have a really small squad this year, because as a club we always work within our means,” said Coleman.
“Our budget has never been the biggest and it’s probably a bit smaller this year than it has been in previous seasons.
“It’s a bit of a transition year for us and we’re looking to bring four or five players through that played in our London League reserves team last year and that are now part of the first-team squad.
“That’s how we’re going to supplement the squad this year. We’ve not got as many moving down from the north, so we’re trying to rebuild from the bottom up.
“We know that means this season is going to be tough, but we have a core group of players who can be here all the time and are willing to work with what we’ve got.
“Hopefully that will pay dividends in those tight, tough games throughout the season.”
COVENTRY BEARS owner and director of rugby Alan Robinson has spoken highly of how the RFL is currently dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.
The game has been on hold since March 16, but Robinson has said the Governing body has been doing all it can to ensure the clubs are kept fully up to date with all developments.
“One good thing for me is that the RFL has been communicating very well with the clubs,” said Robinson.
“Everything that is coming out from the Government is very generic and I know information coming from other governing bodies hasn’t been as good as we’ve had from the RFL.
“They have done a really good job in keeping us updated and keeping us connected with each other.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman admits he has sought advice from elsewhere to ensure his players keep themselves in shape during the current lockdown.
Using his many contacts in the game, Thorman has realised there is no perfect way to handle the current situation and has given his players one simple instruction.
“I’ve been speaking to Simon Woolford at Huddersfield and we’ve been asking each other what’s the best way of doing things at this time,” said Thorman.
“But there is no right or wrong way of keeping the players fit.
“With the advice of only going out when you really have to, I think the guys just need to get out there and run.
“The thing we do most of in Rugby League is being on your feet and running, so the boys have got different running plans to follow and its important that they see them through.
“Some of them are lucky enough to have their own gym equipment that they can use, but from my point of view the most important thing they can do is run every day.”