Hadleigh Parkes column: Wales centre on how coronavirus has affected rugby players

Hadleigh Parkes column

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales and Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes reflects on the last couple of weeks as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect every aspect of modern day life.

It is hard to describe just what has happened over the last couple of weeks.

At times like this, the health and safety of the public is far more important than sport. The world is in the middle of a very serious situation.

Like many others, rugby players find themselves trying to adapt to what has become a new normal, but we realise that pales into insignificance when you see what an amazing job the NHS workers are doing.

When you see the place where we usually train with the Scarlets or the ground where we run out to represent Wales being effectively turned into field hospitals, the seriousness of the situation really hits home.

It is amazing how communities and businesses have banded together to make sure these venues are suitable and able to cope with whatever happens around the corner.

It is great to see the Scarlets have put something in place with Carmarthenshire Council and it shows a lot of community spirit.

It has been a strange few weeks for everybody. We were getting ready to play Scotland in our final Six Nations game and had just finished the Captain's Run at the Principality Stadium, which is the final traditional training session a day before a game.

Everybody had got back to the base at the Vale of Glamorgan hotel and we were sitting down and having lunch when team manager Martyn Williams told us the game had been called off.

It was the right decision and people's health and safety is the most important thing. It was the end to a Six Nations and also to our routine. Nobody really knows how long it will be before this all ends.

There are a lot of rumours going around about potential different scenarios for when rugby might start again, but we are only going to find out more information in the next few weeks.

We are used to being in the team environment and being around a lot of your mates.

It is a bit of a change whatever workforce you are in and it is about trying to adapt and making the most of what is a very serious situation.

People have talked about sports people being uncertain when they are going to play again but for me personally it is not a problem.

Many people are facing much more pressing issues and there are a lot bigger problems about than a game of rugby and when we might be playing in the future.

Rugby players are concerned like any other profession about what the future holds and hopefully the clubs, regions and WRU will come through this across the country.

Work to create a temporary hospital at the Scarlets rugby stadium in Llanelli
Work to create a temporary hospital at the Scarlets rugby stadium in Llanelli

We are also aware there are a lot of other people who are in difficult situations and hopefully when the day comes when we return to some sort of normality, people will still have their jobs.

Issues about what happens in the future are down to the administrators. As players it is our responsibility to ensure if there are further games down the track, we will be ready to go.

Before the lockdown came into place, the Welsh Rugby Union strength and conditioning department got in touch with everyone on WhatsApp and provided watt bikes and weights bars among other things.

If you wanted that you could go and pick it up. Every individual had a separate allotted time so there was no crossing of paths for safety purposes.

I am sure this has happened in a few households across the country and we have now moved our dining room table into our lounge.

So my wife Suzy and I have a workout area, where we have weights, and we have started a specific 60-day intensive programme.

It involves an intense 40-45 minutes training regime and is not something I am used to - but it is a good time to try something different.

After that it is pretty much relaxing for the rest of the day. We get out for a little walk occasionally if we can, although we have not been out of the house an awful lot.

The other day we were out about 5pm on Cathedral Road in Cardiff, near to where we live. It would normally be packed, bumper-to-bumper traffic but there was nobody on the road and it was quite a surreal feeling.

I am doing a lot of odd jobs around the house that don't normally get done. There has also been a bit of gardening and Suzy has cleaned the moss off the back of the house.

We are also having some quality family time which is pretty special. We have a new baby, Ruby, who is almost five months now. She started on solids last week and is a bit of a guzzler.

We are also looking at the situation in New Zealand, which is in lockdown for four weeks. If you travel back there it is compulsory to spend two weeks in self-isolation.

Both our families are OK at the moment and there has been a lot of FaceTime with phone calls going back and forward.

We had a quiz on the Houseparty app the other night with a lot of different families and have been keeping in contact with friends.

We are also keeping in touch at the Scarlets. We have a team WhatsApp group and within that we have four mini-teams within the region.

We normally have a mini-team Monday when, after the review of the previous weekend's game, we have an activity your mini-team has to perform. That is still occurring.

Within your mini-team you have to come up with a song and everybody has to be involved.

A couple of the boys within the mini-teams are a bit better at technology and they get sent the videos of the boys singing a couple of lines and put something together.

It is just a bit of banter among the groups and people keeping in touch. But we know that will never disguise the seriousness of the situation.

It is great to see everybody getting behind the NHS, who are doing such a superb job, and the clapping that happened in the street last week was inspirational.

Anybody in the medical profession, whether they are doctors, nurses or pharmacists, or people who are producing food and supplies and caring for the elderly - they are our heroes and should be supported.

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