Wakefield coach Chris Chester says his club are considering going into lockdown after two more players tested positive for Covid-19.
Chester revealed at his press conference on Thursday that another seven players have been forced to stand down and claimed the re-opening of schools may have been a contributory factor.
“There’s been a couple of positive tests and another seven or eight players we’ve had to stand down on the top of that,” he said.
“We need to have a look at what we’re doing out on the field, whether we’re doing everything possible to minimise the risk, and all the players need to look at what doing away from the club as well.
“We spoke today about potentially locking ourselves down for four or five days to get rid of the virus that is lingering around the players at this moment in time.
“It would give us chance to have a look at the training aspect and to give this place a real deep clean. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what we’re going to have to do and fingers crossed that works for us.”
Chester added: “This was always the worry as soon as schools go back, the risk becomes a lot higher and, without actually delving into it, that’s obviously a reason we’ve had to stand some people down.”
Chester says that, although he is down to just 17 players, Friday’s Super League game against Wigan at Warrington will go ahead.
Chester says he was forced to bring in one player, second rower Matty Ashurst, from paternal leave simply to make up the team.
“These things keep happening and it’s hard work at the minute,” he added. “You prepare for a game on Friday and half your team gets pulled from underneath your feet in the last 24 hours.
“Last night I had 16 players and I had to make a phone call to Matty to ask him to join us for today for the team run. His wife had a baby on Monday but he came in today and he’s fit and ready to go.”
On top of the Covid withdrawals, Chester has lost winger Liam Kay and prop Eddie Battye to injuries sustained in last week’s defeat at Huddersfield.
Kay, who rejoined the club from Toronto, will miss the rest of the season after being told he needs a shoulder re-construction, and Battye’s loan spell from London Broncos has been put on hold due to a knee injury.
“It’s unfortunate for Liam,” Chester said. “He’s just come back into the fold and he’s in a tough spot at the minute. It’s bad luck he didn’t need at this moment in time. I feel for him but he’s got three months now to get it right.”
On the plus side, Wakefield will be boosted by the return of prolific winger Tom Johnstone, who has missed the last five matches with an arm injury.
“We’re all excited to see Tom back out there,” Chester said. “The medical people have done a fantastic job, I just hope he gets a bit of luck now. He’s a player who is very important to us and on his day he’s one of best wingers in the competition.”
Wakefield are the only club without a win since the resumption of the season six weeks ago and are reeling from a 29-6 defeat by the Giants.
“We had a good open and honest chat after the game,” Chester said. “We had a video nasty and put it up in front of them. The senior guys took charge and led that meeting and came up with some real good targets for the next few games.”
Wigan have lost just once, but that was to Hull KR, who were at the time bottom of the table, and coach Adrian Lam is determined to ensure that lightning does not strike twice.
Lam said: “We played Hull KR a couple of weeks ago who were bottom of the table and that’s been the only defeat since post-lockdown.
“You have to make sure every week that your preparation is bang on, that you don’t disrespect opposition teams.”
Like Wigan, Warrington are aiming for the league and cup double.
The Wolves are the only team with a 100 per cent record since the re-start, having won all five league games and knocked previously unbeaten St Helens out of the cup, and they can go top of the table with a win over Catalans Dragons on their own ground at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“We want to win everything,” said coach Steve Price. “We hate losing. We’ve just got to keep preparing well and improving every day.”