Luke Gale column: Covid has left everyone frustrated at Leeds Rhinos
FRUSTRATED AND fed up is an accurate description of the way I am feeling at the moment.
Half way through the season – and on the back of a fantastic win at Castleford – to go three weeks without a game is not what anybody wants.
I thought disruption from Covid was behind us, but it has reared its head again and we’ve been hit hard, with eight positive tests.
I don’t know if it is a new variant, but it is obviously highly transmittable. I think probably one person has come in with it and through training it has been transmitted around the squad.
We’ve not been able to train for more than a week now, but it is just one of those things we can’t do anything about.
One slight positive is that it gives us a bit more time to get some players back, but we would rather be playing than not playing.
I want to stress that, everybody in the camp wanted the Saints game last week and the Catalans match, which was supposed to be on Saturday, to go ahead.
It was a beautiful evening last Friday, we were feeling confident after the Cas game and I think it would have been a memorable night at Headingley against the champions.
I know it is tough on the fans who had tickets for that game and have been waiting for more than a year to go to a game at Emerald Headingley.
We have a big squad, but with eight players ruled out because of the virus, another six having to isolate – plus the injuries we’ve still got – we don’t have a team.
I don’t think we have been able to train 13 on 13 at all this year, because we’ve had so many injuries and the Covid cases have added to that.
We were tested on Monday and everybody hoped if there were no more positives we would be back at training on Tuesday and the game in France could go ahead as planned, but that didn’t happen.
With the break for the Challenge Cup semi-finals, we will have gone three weekends in the middle of the season without a game. It can’t be helped, but it is far from ideal.
The training ground has been closed and we’re not allowed to get together at the moment, so I’ve been doing some running and weights on my own.
There’s a rugby field near my house and I’ve been doing a bit there. I did a 10k run the other day and some fitness in the pitch, but we all want to get a ball in our hands and play rugby, which is what we are paid to do and at the minute we can’t do that.
We’re getting tested again on Saturday and if the results are all clear we’ll be back in on Monday, so fingers crossed.
I suppose time will tell how much all this is going to disrupt us. We’ve got a game a week on Friday, at Salford which is the same night England play Combined Nations.
If we’ve got a few players picked for that game, it might be an inexperienced side that goes to Salford, but we did that a few times last year and whoever’s picked will give a good account of themselves.
Having nearly a month off at this stage of the year will give bodies time to recover, especially the older ones such as myself. When you don’t play for a while the aches and pains go away and you can get a fresh start, but halfway through the season you want to be playing every week.
It is turning into one of those years when we just can’t seem to get any rhythm. In the Cas game we hit some good form and we wanted to kick on from that, both as individuals and a team.
That has been stalled, which is disappointing, but hopefully we can get straight back to that sort of form when we get back on the pitch.