As Wakefield Trinity’s Chris Chester is discovering, though, that fundamental skill is no longer as simple as it once was in life before coronavirus.
He has been denied the services of four of his players for tomorrow evening’s game against Warrington Wolves for various reasons related to Covid-19.
Second-row Jay Pitts and full-back Alex Walker were told to self-isolate for 14 days after last weekend’s Challenge Cup opponents Catalans Dragons received three positive Covid tests on Tuesday.
Winger Liam Kay – who did not play in the 36-24 defeat – has also had to stand down for the same period “due to a family situation.” But the West Yorksire club also announced yesterday, “after further discussions with the RFL and internally” it has stood down David Fifita for the “foreseeable future” after the Australian prop, bizarrely, refused to wear a GPS vest.
A statement from Trinity chairman Michael Carter read: “Part of the Track and Trace protocols involve the use of GPS data. David has refused to wear one in the past, and despite being told that he must wear one, didn’t wear it against Catalans in the league game, and removed it at half-time of the game last Saturday.
“As the person ultimately responsible for the health and wellbeing of every employee of the Club, we must err on the side of caution and remove David from the playing bubble.”
Of course, Wakefield had already also played Catalans at short notice in Super League the week before after an outbreak of the virus at Hull FC prompted a fixture rejig.
Chester is becoming used to seeing his best-laid plans torn up.
Speaking before yesterday’s statement about Fifita, he said: “We have just got to get on with it.
“We have lost three guys – one real leader in the team as well – but we have got some other guys who are ready and are chomping at the bit to play.
“They have been unlucky not to get a game over the last two or three weeks and there’s no point whinging and moaning.
“There was some genuine concern from the players when we sat them down and had a good chat. I can totally see where the players are coming from.”
Carter stressed all the squad tested negative on Monday and they were last night awaiting results of a second round of testing taken on Thursday.
Trinity have yet to win since the sport resumed after lockdown, losing narrowly against Wigan Warriors before successive defeats versus Catalans including an embarrassing 58-0 reverse.
Warrington, meanwhile, are aiming for a fifth straight win.
Chester said: “They are one of the best teams in the comp’, but looking at last week’s game, we made some big strides forward.
“We played well in patches, we defended a lot tougher and one pleasing for me from the sideline was they stuck up for themselves as well.”
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