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IRFU say players who have health worries won't be forced to return



On alert: Ulster’s John Cooney has voiced concerns

On alert: Ulster’s John Cooney has voiced concerns

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

On alert: Ulster’s John Cooney has voiced concerns

The IRFU has confirmed that none of its players will be forced to go back to training next week as Irish rugby steps up its return to play.

The news comes with some players, particularly those who live at home with their parents or those with young families, believed to have reservations about returning.

While it is not anticipated that any player will opt against following the proposed schedule - which will see Leinster and Munster back in their respective high-performance centres on Monday, and Ulster the week after - the IRFU has insisted that each case will be dealt with on an individual basis.

Last month, Ireland and Ulster scrum-half John Cooney alluded to the concerns amongst his fellow players when he warned that they have a responsibility to look out for those who may be vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. IRFU medical director Dr Rod McLoughlin acknowledged such concerns.

"The majority of players are very keen to get back, but - understandably - there may be some others who have specific concerns," he said. "Firstly, no player will be forced to return to training and if a player does contact us with concerns, they will all be addressed individually. We have established a medical committee who will advise any player who has concerns.

"Players or support staff, like anyone in the community, could experience Covid-19 after they return to training, and we have contingencies to deal with that. It's one of the reasons we're going back in small pods, so that if that situation arises, that individual has been in contact with as few people as possible."

Leinster and Munster's players, coaches and backroom staff underwent Covid-19 tests yesterday, with results expected within four days.

Belfast Telegraph