Salford very seriously considered forfeiting their Super League fixture with Hull Kingston Rovers.
The Red Devils, who head to Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final on Saturday, have been hit by two positive Covid tests.
A further two players are awaiting re-tests after inconclusive results, while last night a string of injuries left Salford having to play several of their stars in line to play on Saturday.
With the risk of injuries and further disruption ahead of Saturday in mind, the Red Devils discussed the prospect of conceding before ultimately deciding to play the match which, due to a late Jamie Ellis penalty goal, in the end saw them lose 24-22.
“We’ve had a helluva 24 hours,” said the club’s Director of Rugby Operations, Ian Blease.
“We played Hull KR tonight and had eight injuries. We were seriously talking about giving it away, we were talking about forfeiting.
“We couldn’t have done it, operationally, but it was just the injuries, the niggles we’ve had. We are at a player welfare stage now; Ollie Roberts has gone on that pitch and we wouldn’t have played him normally, under any circumstances. If you watch the game, in the first tackle he was wincing and limping.
“But for the integrity of the competition we thought we couldn’t cancel, it just wouldn’t look good. I think we did the right thing. It could have jeopardised our plans for Wembley even further but we felt we had to play.
“In true Salford spirit we had a dig, and a few players had run-outs who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had one .”
The identity of the two players who have contracted Covid remains unknown but inevitably, the news has not only crushed their spirit, but also their hopes of playing at Wembley.
“When we first got word of it we were straight on to our player welfare manager, Marlon Billy and said we have to console and prepare them for it. When it has happened is so unfortunate and it’s really stressful for them. I feel for them, I really do.
“I have told them I’ll do everything I can possibly do to help them play at Wembley. If we have to retest them, if that would help – absolutely anything – but I know I’m fighting a losing battle because of just how grim the situation currently is.
“What we have now is two inconclusive tests and we need those to be a negative. So it’s just the two players.”
Though the positive cases have caused stress and disruption, Salford didn’t train over the weekend as a precaution, to limit the threat of an outbreak, Blease says the focus must now be on enjoying their first Challenge Cup final for fifty-one years.