Month-long post-virus NRL prep needed

Parramatta's training facility is off limits to players during the NRL's season shutdown.
Parramatta's training facility is off limits to players during the NRL's season shutdown.

The NRL has been warned they must give players a month to prepare for a return to the field from the coronavirus-enforced shutdown or else they risk a spate of injuries.

Clubs were on Friday given teams a wide-range of guidelines for player training during the suspension of the competition, which includes keeping them away from team bases.

Under the rules, players must only train individually meaning they cannot complete any ball work or contact sessions for tackling or wrestling.

NRL boss Todd Greenberg has already indicated some pre-season would be granted before the restart, but has not confirmed how long that will be.

Cronulla great Paul Gallen said at least a month had to be afforded to players, meaning the virus would have to be cleared enough for contact by August for the latest possible restart in September.

"I do think they need a good 4-6 weeks," Gallen told Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

"If we send these guys back on the field with one week's preparation, all sorts of things can go wrong.

"We worry about players' health at the moment but there could be detrimental impacts on players' knees and shoulders.

"It's all sorts of different things that players need to get back up to speed to play again."

Gallen himself has been one of the hundreds of staff across the league stood down due to the virus pandemic, relieved of his position as an assistant coach at Cronulla.

Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold also backed the call, warning it could not only lead to injuries but a sub-par competition on the game's return.

"If we only had a very limited preparation it would have an impact on the competition," Seibold said.

"I'm not sure if not training together and then throwing them into a high-intensity collision sport is the right thing for the players too.

"First and foremost we would need some time to at least prepare the players.

"Because at the moment there is no contact, wrestle or high-speed running.

"All those things protect the players whether it's soft tissue injuries or collision injuries as well."

The NRL has already said the competition must restart by September 1, which would allow a 15-round competition plus finals to be complete by December 13.

Meanwhile, the NRL's guidelines allow club physios to treat the more than 35 players who are recovering from injuries but only in their own home.

Players are banned from having visitors in their homes, in a bid to keep those in the NRL healthy and able to restart as soon as possible.

Australian Associated Press