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Covid case in Munster 'a proper reality check,' says Peter O'Mahony

‘I’ve no doubt it’s not going to be the last case in Irish rugby in general over the foreseeable future.’

Image: ©INPHO

MUNSTER CAPTAIN PETER O’Mahony admits that last week’s confirmed Covid-19 case in the province’s academy brought about an unsettling time, a reminder of how thin the rugby bubble really is.

The southern province will mark the return of professional rugby on this island on Saturday when they kick-off a round of inter-pros against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.

However, as cases in Ireland went on the rise in recent weeks and the lock-out of fans was reimposed on other sports, a question mark was reapplied to rugby’s fixtures as the pandemic crept inside the walls of Munster’s high performance centre in UL.

“Initially we were all just hopeful that the player was OK and that was the main thing,” O’Mahony said after removing his mask for a virtual press conference this week.

The player’s symptoms have now subsided and it sounds as though he and his close six contacts within the squad are well. But the presence of the Coronavirus comes as a reminder as to why the squad is undertaking so many extra measures just to train, play and keep the show on the road.

I think when you’re in the rugby bubble, you’re taken out of reality a little bit and that was a proper reality check for us, that unfortunately this disease is amongst everyone and nobody is immune to it.

“So it’s a reality check for us. The protocol we have in the HPC is second to none, I thought the doctor and the management were excellent, the way they handled it. Jamie (Kearns, team doctor) was all over it very quickly, all the management had all the protocols that we had to go through and I think we were very diligent about it, but again the priority was that the player was healthy and was going to recover fine, that was the initial thought and then we just stuck to the process to get back.

“Look, it just shows how important our protocol is here. I’ve no doubt it’s not going to be the last case in Irish rugby in general over the foreseeable future.

“And I think it just showed that, you (might) think all the processes are a little bit over the top, but I think we would have been in big trouble if it hadn’t been for our protocol and our processes.

“You hear those words a lot about rugby, but with regard to trying to control the virus, they stood to us.”

O’Mahony is fully aware that the measures will remain necessary for a long time to come. And though he is grateful to be able to train, to work, in a professional sporting environment that was already designed to shut out outside influence, the people in that professional environment will continue to be people like any other.

“It helps (being in a professional environment), certainly, the way we can run this building. But again every player goes out into the public, on your day off you meet someone for a coffee… if it’s in the community we’ve got to be very careful, and everybody’s got to be very careful.

“And guys have got to understand that for us to get back, we have to be incredibly diligent with regard to what we’re doing outside of it – as much as any person in the country or in the world at the moment, people have to understand how diligent they have to be to try and get rid of this.

“Particularly after last week we understand how important that is and will be going forward.

“When you have a new system we all have to do a bit of a course on matchday process and we walk through on the laptop what the processes are.

“But at the end of the day when you have something like an inter-pro or a rugby game at the end of it, you’re down to battle then.”

Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella look forward to the restart of Irish rugby by previewing all four provinces ahead of the inter-pros this weekend:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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