Players return to training after 42-day coronavirus lay-off


Damien Cook at Redfern Oval.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Souths players, including Murray and a fit-looking Damien Cook, arrived at Redfern early for their meeting.

Many of them arrived with the training and gym equipment they were allowed to borrow not long after the competition was shut down.

The club also confirmed Mark Ellison would replace Shane Richardson as the new head of football and Brock Schaefer has become new the chief operating officer.

Wests Tigers players arrived at their new temporary base at Cintra Park where they will train until their state-of-the-art academy at nearby Concord Oval is completed in time for the 2022 pre-season.

Tigers boss Justin Pascoe told the Herald for most of the players it was like “their first day at school”.

“I’ve seen the players on Zoom, but not face to face since the competition was suspended,” Pascoe said. “I’m sure they’re all champing at the bit to be a part of it.

“It’s a monumental achievement to get the game back on, and that doesn’t come from individuals doing it, it comes as collective effort from players, staff, the governing body, the government, the biosecurity experts. 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.”

Out at Penrith players were seen removing their shoes at the entrance of the Panthers Academy and having their temperatures taken.

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Players like Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton live with large families and were eager to learn if they would be required to live elsewhere, while Billy Kikau was also unsure whether he would have to move away from his partner, who is a primary school teacher.

Penrith, however, are fortunate to have Panthers House, which is normally occupied by juniors forced to move from the bush, interstate or New Zealand, while there is also the Mercure Hotel on their western Sydney premises.

Cronulla players started arriving from 8.30am, including Andrew Fifita who posted a video over the weekend of him pretending to keep fit while in isolation and telling his coach John Morris as much via text message.

The Warriors woke up in Tamworth after they touched down Sunday and will spend the next two weeks in the country town before relocating to the Central Coast.

The players will have three weeks to get fit in time for the May 28 resumption with several clubs already requiring players to undergo remote fitness tests last week.

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