Fantastic to be back says Alex Mellor as Leeds Rhinos return to training after Covid outbreak

England Knights forward Alex Mellor says it is “fantastic” to be back at work after Leeds Rhinos’ coronavirus crisis.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:45 am

Training has now resumed, following a 12-day lay-off.

Mellor was not among the eight players and staff who contracted the illness, but had to isolate after Morgan Gannon, who he travels to training with, tested positive.

Rhinos’ Kirkstall base was shut for 10 days, but reopened yesterday after the squad’s latest round of PCR tests all came back negative.

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Alex Mellor. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Leeds are now preparing for Friday’s visit to Salford Red Devils, which will be their first fixture for four weeks.

Their games at home to St Helens and away against Catalans Dragons were postponed because of the positive tests and Rhinos also had a free weekend at the start of this month, when Betfred Super League took a break for the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

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“It has been fantastic to get back in [yesterday] and get back to some normality.

Alex Mellor. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“You take it for granted, but it was nice to be back around the boys and socialising, as well as playing rugby.”

Mellor was in isolation for 10 days, during some of the hottest weather of the year so far.

“That makes it way worse,” he admitted.

“I had some weights and an exercise bike dropped off and I had to make do, do what I can in the garden and I’ve turned into a bit of a cyclist, every day.”

Players who tested positive for the virus will be unavailable this week and Leeds also have players on duty in the mid-season international between England and Combined Nations All Stars, which is being staged in Warrington on Friday.

Mellor said: “We’ll get a good week under our belt and do what we can with what numbers we can.

“We’ll put our best foot forward in preparation for Salford.”

The big question is whether, with the recent disruption and a below-strength side, Rhinos can carry on from where they left off against Tigers. “This break would have been pretty awful if we’d been on the back end of that result,” Mellor said.

“The fact we had such a good win and then the break, it has made it a bit easier and we are looking forward with more confidence than we would have done.

More - Kevin Sinfield leaves Leeds Rhinos having more than fulfilled his massive potential“I think we can pick up where we left off, we’ve got that feeling and muscle memory of what it’s like to do so well and we want to emulate that if we can.”

Salford picked up their second win of the season when they beat hosts Huddersfield Giants 9-8 last Friday, despite playing for 47 minutes with 12 men after James Greenwood was sent off.

“It’s going to be a big ask,” Mellor predicted of this week’s challenge. We don’t know what sort of team we are going to have out so we are just going to have to do what we can, believe in our system and believe in the players we’ve got on the field, that they can go out and do a job for us.”

Rhinos’ postponed round-10 game at Catalans, which was due to be played last Saturday, has been rearranged for Friday, July 16 kicking off at 6.15pm UK time.

Leeds are at home to the French side seven days earlier.

Hull KR have become the latest club hit by the virus. Their home clash with St Helens, scheduled for this Friday, was postponed yesterday with five players having tested positive and another nine being forced to isolate.

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