Ian Blease: Positive coronavirus tests have opened eyes in Super League

Ian Blease has stressed the importance of Super League being able to complete the 2020 season following the positive coronavirus tests which led to Salford Red Devils’ game this weekend being postponed.

The Red Devils squad were told to self-isolate following six players and two staff members from Hull FC, who they beat 54-18 last Sunday, testing positive. So far, however, no positive tests have been returned by anyone at Salford or any of the other nine Super League clubs.

Both clubs are expected to find out the results from additional testing on Saturday and while Red Devils director of rugby and operations Blease praised the RFL and Super League for the work they have done in getting the competition back in action, he believes more can be done to ensure no further interruptions.

“The worry for me now is the game and hopefully we don’t get any more cases,” Blease told the Golden Point podcast. “It’s opened a lot of eyes and I’ve questioned the frequency of the testing and the timing of it.

“I have to say, the RFL and Super League have been tremendous in everything they’ve done and the staff at the AJ Bell Stadium for the biosecure zone we’ve got for training.

“They’ve done really well to get it back on the pitch and it’s really important we get the season broadcast and finished, and that’s top of my priority list.

“I’m sure it is for [Super League executive chairman] Robert Elstone and his team too, so we have to make sure we do absolutely everything possible, re-energise the protocols and government guidelines again just to make sure we’re doing absolutely everything as a game to make sure we can carry on the season.”

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Hull are waiting to find out whether or not next week’s Challenge Cup tie against Castleford Tigers, who they were due to play in Super League this Sunday, will be postponed as well with an announcement on that match set to follow from the RFL in due course.

Salford are not playing next weekend due to being drawn in the quarter-finals when this year’s competition was reformatted due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the season, but are still waiting on a new date for their Super League game against the Dragons.

The source of the infections at Hull has not been traced and while there is no suggestion anyone at the club has failed to follow any rules or guidance, Blease sees the positive tests as reminder to everyone in Super League they must adhere rigidly to the various protocols.

The former Salford player wants to see the RFL follow the approach taken in Australia by the NRL implementing rules around fines for anyone who breaks the biosecurity rules, rather than leaving it to clubs to enforce with their own systems.

“I’m really keen on the governing body to do that job,” Blease said. “We’ve all got covid officers and can penalise as we want, but you look at the job the NRL have done.

“I know we haven’t got the resources and the cash those guys have got, but it needs to come from the top and we need to implement it as clubs as well and back the governance of it all.

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