Brooks was on his way home to break the news to his partner of almost 18 months, Tahlia, after being caught off guard by the medical experts.
“We were told today, ‘if you’re not living together, you can’t see them’, which is going to be tough,” Brooks said.
“We’ll have to find a way to deal with it. We’re planning on moving in together in a couple of months. In the meantime, we’ll have to use Zoom call. I only saw her this morning.
“If we want to play footy and keep doing what we love doing, we have to stick with the guidelines.”
Every player was informed about the NRL’s strict biosecurity measures and had concerns answered by medical experts.
Training was originally expected to start on Tuesday but was pushed back 24 hours to allow players to digest the information and make alternate living arrangements if required. Field sessions will be limited to groups of eight and 10 this week.
Cook said the Souths players waited in parked cars before being given a specific time they could enter the back of the Redfern grandstand.
The players were later spread out across the NRL, reserve grade and under-20s dressing sheds, had to remove their shoes and wear their “Redfern shoes” before being addressed by the club’s newly promoted head of football Mark Ellison, club doctor Andrew McDonald and Mike Green, who is known by the players and conducted a few of their pre-season army camps.
Going to the beach and playing golf are banned. Walking dogs, which was originally black-listed, is allowed, as is living with people who work on the front line in health and at primary schools.
Wests Tigers players arrived at their new temporary base at Cintra Park, where they will train until their state-of-the-art academy at Concord Oval is completed before the 2022 pre-season.
Club legend and assistant coach Brett Hodgson was spotted wearing a face-mask and taking the temperatures of players upon arrival.
Tigers boss Justin Pascoe told the Herald for most of the players it was like “their first day at school” and a ”monumental achievement to get the game back on”.
“That doesn’t come from individuals doing it, it comes as a collective effort from players, staff, the governing body, the government, the biosecurity experts,” Pascoe said.
“It’s been an extraordinary effort with what’s been achieved so far, and now it’s about understanding those protocols and making sure we do get the game back on for the benefit of the community.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.