Gareth Ellis - Players willing to do their bit for game - but not at expense of health

I’m not sure what the answer is to how the game carries on after the coronavirus – but I was annoyed by the comments made by Gary Hetherington recently.

Doing it tough: Gareth Ellis says players from all clubs will muck in to help the game when the action resumes – but not at the risk to their long-term well-being.Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
Doing it tough: Gareth Ellis says players from all clubs will muck in to help the game when the action resumes – but not at the risk to their long-term well-being.Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

Reading him say that he didn’t want to hear players whingeing if we have to play three games per week, I felt like I’d been told off by my mum and dad when I was about 12 years old!

You know what it’s like – them saying ‘I don’t want to hear moaning from you!’ – but this was like getting the Scarborough Warning before anything had even happened.

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I’d not heard any players saying they wouldn’t play in those circumstances. In fact, it was the opposite; everyone knows there will be those moments when we do have to muck in and just do what we need to do for the sport.

BODIES ON LINE: Leeds' Alex Mellor is tackled by Hull pair Andre Savelio and Carlos Tuimavave.

Admittedly, though, surely there must be a better way to catch up rather than playing three games in a week.

I don’t think the competition is going to hold any value or any credibility by doing that.

And that’s where I think it is up to them – the sport’s administrators – to come up with something vibrant and exciting that captures the imagination of the supporters.

Let’s not forget, in these harsh times, the fans will have to fork out their money to go watch it.

We need the administrators to step up to the plate and think of a way of making it exciting when it does resume so that, whoever does go on to win it, doesn’t have an asterix next to their name saying ‘but it was the year of coronavirus and every other team was hampered’.

They need to say the sport is struggling but we’re going to get right behind it because of X, Y and Z.

That would be much better than just rolling us all out playing three games per week and diluting the competition.

Granted, I’m not privy to the financial situation even of Hull FC let alone the Super League competition as a whole.

But us as players have a duty to do the best that we can. I know we’ll have to put our bodies on the line in situations that will be tough and difficult.

We all have to muck in and do our bit as players. I know we will.

All the players I’ve spoken to, are keen to do so – but not to the detriment of their health or serious risk of injury.

It goes beyond that for some people; some injuries last a week or two or four but some are 12 months or longer or even career-ending. You can’t ignore that fact. And, although I don’t have the scientific proof, I’m pretty sure playing an unrealistic amount of games in a short period of time will increase the risk of picking up an injury.

A risk is always there whether you play one game a week or five.

But it’s about trying to find that mid-range which can sit as a realistic amount of games a player can play without being ridiculous.

I think you will get buy-in then from the players to do it, knowing they’ll have to go a bit out of their comfort zone and it will be a win-win for everyone if the balance is correct.

It’s going to be difficult regardless but the key thing is for the competition to still hold that credibility moving forward.

There’s a danger of almost going into the rest of the season – whenever that may be – with an air of just let’s get through this year, get some money into the clubs and then look ahead to next year.

But we can’t do that. It’s important that we spark some enthusiasm for the rest of this season that we can all buy into.

Yes, we need money into the game and we also know we are going to have to test ourselves.

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know what the solution is.

But I know we need some imagination now to get this right.

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