Raiders coach: ‘We have to look at the bigger picture’
AS A potential restart date looms closer for the rugby union season, the Proserpine Whitsunday Raiders' coach has said he's focusing on the wellbeing of his players "first and foremost".
With the possibility community sport may soon be able to restart as virus restrictions ease, Raiders coach Andre Houston said the chance of the season starting back up again in July had become a reality.
However, as he excitedly waited for an official timeline, Houston said his current focus was on the wellbeing and mental health of his players, rather than getting on the field.
"After this period off, I'm itching to get back to the field and I know the boys are itching to get back as well," he said.
"I've told all the guys to start looking at bringing their fitness back up because there's the chance we'll be back training soon.
"But there's the bigger picture to look at as well. If we have guys with families and they're financially struggling, we're not going to be asking them to put us before supporting themselves and their family.
"At the end of the day, we're grassroots and to me it will always be more important to have my players happy and with a roof over their head."
Although ready to take to the field and lead the premiership-defending Raiders once again, Houston said he "wasn't prepared" to keep waiting around for an answer of when the season would restart, if it was further delayed.
"Life has to go on, that's the reality. There's some Brisbane comps which are talking about waiting all year but that's just not fair to anyone," he said.
"We've made a submission to Queensland Rugby Union and if the restart is past the first week of August, we've drawn the line in the sand."
Houston said the virus measures may have stopped the Raiders training as a team, but it hadn't stopped many of his players from maintaining their fitness.
Players had been in constant communication with Houston over Zoom and had the ability to talk to strength and conditioning coaches.
"A lot of the younger players have been messaging me for tips and help on training so they'll be ready and fit to go," he said.
"A few of them have been on apps and tracking their runs and workouts, so there's been some friendly banter and competition there to keep them going through everything.
"I've told them all to start getting ready and to prepare now there are some tentative dates and they've given some positive feedback that they can't wait to get back out there."