Gareth Ellis: Games being played or not - a coach’s life is still a busy one

Just lately, I almost feel like I’ve got a proper job as I’ve been getting my weekends back to myself all again.

Strange times: Since Andre Saveilo and Hull defeated Leigh on June 19 they have played on match, with their next game scheduled to be against the Centurions on July 11.   Picture Bruce Rollinson
Strange times: Since Andre Saveilo and Hull defeated Leigh on June 19 they have played on match, with their next game scheduled to be against the Centurions on July 11. Picture Bruce Rollinson

With our last two games called off – the derby with Hull KR and tonight’s game against Salford Red Devils – due to Covid issues with our opponents, it has meant we’ve ended up with some time off.

The game against KR has moved to the Thursday of the Challenge Cup final weekend which is where we’d have had some time off and got chance for the boys to freshen up.

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But, because we now have a game then, Hodgo [Hull coach Brett Hodgson] gave us three days off last weekend and this weekend, too.

If I’m honest, I put my feet up. It was quite nice not having any videos to watch and clip and, instead, just watch a few games that were on TV. And enjoy the football as well!

But it will all start again now with our preparation for Leigh on Sunday.

It is frustrating when games are called off due to Covid.

From a coach’s perspective, it is slightly different to a player’s build-up.

Work to do: Gareth Ellis says he has had his eyes opened to the amount of work coaches have to do, since hanging up his boots. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

We were well into our preparation, from a coaching point, for the first game that was postponed.

We’d already done the hard yards.

Whereas the players build-up to game day, at the beginning of the week and then it tapers off, culminating in the game which is their showpiece of the week, the coaches do all their work prior to that.

Probably before the last game is finished you’ll start doing a bit of a prep’ work on the next game.

All the work we’d done prepping Rovers, which is probably watching at least the last two games, cutting them up and clipping bits and organising that into a gameplan.

For me defensively, it means looking at the opposition’s attack, seeing what they do, how they do it, who are their threats and then come up with a gameplan and our targets we need to pay particular attention to.

Ultimately all that work can take quite a few hours but you’d narrow it down to a short video presentation to show the boys and give them a few images based on what we want to do that week.

But last week, we’d heard that Salford had a couple of Covid cases and as I sat down to start watching the last couple of their games, I did wonder who do I know at Salford who might know what’s going to happen before I start doing this… and it all being for nothing!

It wasn’t long before the news came out that Thursday’s Salford v Wakefield game was postponed and then that obviously left our game against them on Monday pretty much in the same boat.

Now, though, we start looking towards Leigh.

We played then quite recently so we will probably roll the review of that game into the preview of this.

What makes it hard at the minute, though, when you’re doing your preview, is that you don’t actually know who is playing because there’s so many injuries, suspensions, Covid-related stuff, it’s difficult to really pin down who is going to play.

You just have to try and pick out a way a team is going to play without being too specific.

But that’s fine as the majority of the stuff is about your team and what you do anyway; a few little nuggets of information that you can give the players something to focus on.

It is so difficult now, though. Sometimes you’re planning, organising and previewing a game when you find out there’s seven or eight of them that are not going to be playing in the next game so you have to adapt on the run!

Obviously, I knew coaches work hard and I knew what coaches did, but it really brings it to light now I’m doing it just the hours that coaches have to put in.

We do get days off in the week, of course, but they are not full days off. You normally have a little something to prep’ for the next day and things like that.

I wouldn’t say it’s been a shock but it’s something I’ve had to get my head around and adapt to coming from the playing side.

And I am enjoying it. Fingers crossed nothing happens this week and we can get the players back out to play again on Sunday.