Player relief at resumption but big hurdles remain
St George Illawarra star Corey Norman has praised the NRL for getting rugby league back onto the field by May 28, saying: "We've only been out three weeks but it feels like a lifetime".
Currently training out of a makeshift garage gym at home, Norman told News Corp Australia he was buoyed by news the game would return to action in just seven weeks.
But not all Dragons greeted the news so positively. Veteran James Graham is warning optimists not to count their chickens.
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Graham wasn't so certain the game could simply "play on" through the COVID-19 outbreak like after a halftime break.
"I'd love to play tomorrow. I really would, but I understand there's logistics involved in this. There's health risks and all this," Graham told Fox League Live.
"There's more to getting rugby league games on than just getting 17 blokes against 17 blokes. There's a lot to work through.
"Look, I was as excited as anyone (about the prospect of) getting back in, what, less than two months? But we've got to be real and keep a lid on this."
Norman, though, was upbeat, saying the quick turnaround ensured players would still be in top shape when they return to training on May 1, with teams then having four more weeks to prepare together.
"This is exciting news, isn't it," Norman said.
"I know we've only been out three weeks but it feels like a lifetime.
"To be honest with you, I've realised quickly how much you can miss this game."
Asked if he had a preference on how the NRL competition should be structured when it returns, the Queensland Origin incumbent continued: "I'm pretty easy with all that.
"Right now, and like everyone else, I just want to get back out there and get the game going again.
"I know a lot of the players at different clubs have been sticking closely to training programs that their staff have been sending out.
"Because we had no idea when we'd be back, everyone has tried to stay fit."
Penrith winger Josh Mansour was another grateful for the news.
"I'm just relieved we have a plan to get back out there and play," Mansour said.
"It's definitely been an anxious wait.
"But I'm grateful for all the work that has been going on behind the scenes to get us back on the field."
Norman revealed that he has spent the past three weeks training with his housemate and former NRL backrower Justin Horo.
"Justin's a keen trainer so we've been doing a lot of stuff together," he said.
"I've tried to maintain a routine where we do a run in the morning and weights in the afternoon, then swap it around.
"A few days after the lockdown, the club provided me with barbell, weights and a Watt bike. So with a little improvisation, I've been able to follow the programs set out pretty well."
A host of NRL players, fans and even referees took to social media on Thursday night to celebrate the news, including Cronulla prop Aaron Woods, Gold Coast No.9 Nathan Peats and whistleblower Kasey Badger.
Getting excited at the possibility of footy returning and also and most importantly Australia slowing the rate of positive results and stemming the flow. I think if everyone buys into staying home this weekend and buying into what the government have requested we will be all good— Nathan Peats (@nathanpeats9) April 9, 2020
Originally published as Player relief at resumption but big hurdles remain