Trying to keep a rugby league squad fit – from more than social distance

FOR strength and conditioning coaches, the current lockdown must be causing no end of problems.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 8:05 pm
LOCKED DOWN: Members of Wakefield Trinity's squad are training alone

Imagine the scenario; you spend months priming your players to get in peak condition for the season ahead but then, after the game shuts down, are left powerless as they head off to their own devices in self-isolation.

Wakefield Trinity’s head of performance Martin Clawson has been involved in the sport for decades having initially worked with Bradford Bulls during their halcyon days in Super League.

On managing the Trinity squad’s fitness during the Covid-19 pandemic, he admitted: “It’s not ideal is it but luckily we were warned a little bit as a nation that it was going to happen.

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MAN WITH A PLAN: Wakefield Trinity's strength and conditioning coach Martin Clawson.

“I’ve got some great staff who work for me who put some things together and we were ready for when the lockdown started.

“We’ve been drip-feeding weekly sessions to the players since then.

“Before the lockdown, when it was still just social distancing, we managed to get through and get some equipment to the players as well.”

Was is it hard deciding which player got what?

Clawson joked: “That’s still a bone of contention right now!

“They were given bars and plates and a running programme.

“We all parked up in the car park, there was a process of cleaning your hands, going to see the pre-hab and physio people, they were then given some protocols from them.

“Then it was wash their hands with cleaning solution again, into the gym, get their equipment, load the car up, drive out and next person in. It took a few hours but it worked.”

Rugby league shut down in mid-March and there are still no clear indications yet when games will resume although June or July have been mentioned.

Ideally, clubs would want time with their players to then get them ready for action but that may not be possible.

Clawson – whose wife works as a specialist cancer nurse at Pinderfields Hospital – added: “That’s individualised anyway; I think we have 56 paid players on our books and you cant do a collective (training) for all those 56.

“When we get back in we’ll have several players who followed the training schedule who will be ready to play straight away.

“And we have players who won’t be ready for several weeks.

“Then factor in we’re like every other workplace in England; we have good employees and bad employees. Some will have followed it, some won’t! It’s a good time to see who the professional players are – the good team members and leaders – and who are the selfish and weak.”

With wage cuts being proposed across Super League clubs this week, Clawson fully understands the precarious position struggling clubs find themselves in.

“I can only speak for myself but it’s about saving the game now,” he said.

“Nobody wants to do it but I think people have to for the good of the game. Or there won’t be a game to come back to.

“Let’s get on with it, let’s be positive and let’s try get some good out of this situation.”

Meanwhile, Trinity are mourning the death of former club doctor John Lynagh.

Clawson said: “I always found him a fantastic bloke and a good character as well. You need different types of people working at your club and I always found John very professional but also a good character and it is really sad news.”