Hunslet’s head coach Gary Thornton could, once the 2020 Betfred League 1 campaign resumes, reap the reward for building a squad comprising players of strong character as well as ability.
The Parksiders, in common with all other Rugby League clubs, are unable to train as a group until the government gives the go-ahead for communal activities to resume in the face of the coronavirus epidemic. Thornton admitted: “We’ve set the players programmes, which hasn’t been straightforward as gyms are closed and not everyone has equipment in their homes.
“So we’re reliant on them adhering to those programmes and generally keeping fit as it’s vital that we are in good shape when the season resumes.
“I’m confident that our players can be trusted to remain as fit as they can be so that we will be on the front foot when the Rugby Football League gives the nod for fixtures to start anew. They are linking up in a whatsapp group to support each other. And our coaching staff – Gary Barnett, Mark Cass and me – are in touch with a few senior players to oversee everything.”
He continued: “Ideally there will be space allocated by the RFL to play a game or two in what would in effect be a second pre-season, but everything is obviously very much up in the air; all we can do, in truth, is wait for the go-ahead.”
One saving grace for all clubs is that injured players will have a chance to regain fitness during the hiatus. Hunslet winger Ben Markland, who is awaiting a knee operation, could perhaps benefit from the suspension of fixtures while prop Harry Kidd, who dislocated a shoulder in the league win earlier this month over North Wales Crusaders – a victory that hoisted Hunslet to the top of the early-season table – certainly will.
“Harry Kidd will definitely be back to full health when we start playing again,” said Thornton. “That will be a big boost for us. And I’m expecting all our players, who are an honest group, to be fully fit.”