Leeds Rhinos return to training - and step up fight against coronavirus

Club doctor Marwan Al-Dawoud has outlined the steps Leeds Rhinos are taking to prevent more coronavirus disruption.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 5:00 pm

Pre-season training resumed yesterday, following an 11-day break after a flurry of positive tests among players and staff.

Club officials are hopeful the “firebreak” stoppage will prevent further infections, but Al-Dawoud - Rhinos’ head of medical services - insisted they won’t take any chances.

Regular testing of players and staff will continue and a well-being checklist - which highlights potential symptoms - is mandatory for everyone working at Rhinos’ Kirkstall training base.

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Rhinos' medical staff treat James Donaldson after he suffered a fractured back in a win over Huddersfield last August. They are now leading the club's fight against coronavirus. Picture by James Hardisty.

“Countless protocols and systems have been put in to ensure Kirkstall is as safe as it can be,” Al Dawoud stressed.

He conceded: “There is always going to be risk, ultimately, Covid is spreading despite some of the things we’ve put into place.

“But we’ve done lots of things - for example one-way systems; we are doing daily cleans of the whole site and we’ve done lots of work from a behavioural point of view with the staff and players in terms of hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

“We have put players into bubbles, so if one gets unwell that only takes out that group rather than the whole squad.

“That is to limit spread and I suspect, looking back on the cases we’ve had, a lot of them were confined to bubbles.”

Al-Dawoud insisted Rhinos haven’t just been following guidelines. He said “We’ve also done things over and above what we’ve been asked to do, for instance, we have installed air cleaning systems to help with air quality and hygiene. We’ve also installed more cameras inside the venue so we can not only check compliance, but also help with any potential contacts that might be missed.”

The whole squad have bought into what the medical staff are trying to achieve, according to Al-Dawoud. He added: “Clearly we can do what we can at the club, but everyone has to act responsibly in their own homes and their own environments.

“That’s something we have pressed upon the players, with the full backing of the club. We have been doing our best to ensure players and staff are aware of what is happening.”

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