Coronavirus: Principality Stadium hospital transformation surreal says Martyn Williams

The Principality Stadium is being turned into Wales' biggest hospital

Wales team manager Martyn Williams admits it is surreal to have seen Cardiff''s Principality Stadium transformed into a field hospital.

The home of Welsh rugby is being turned into a 2,000-bed facility to ease pressure on the NHS from the coronavirus pandemic.

Williams, who won 100 caps for Wales, succeeded Alan Phillips as team manager in November 2019.

"It is incredible how quickly people have pulled together," said Williams.

Len Richards, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's chief executive, said he hoped the first 300 beds would open this weekend at the venue, which has been called Dragon's Heart Hospital.

"It is surreal to see and they have turned the stadium around into a hospital within an unbelievable time frame," said Williams.

"The work the Welsh Rugby Union executive board and stadium manager Mark Williams have been undertaking with the NHS is phenomenal.

"It is one of those times when everybody has pulled together for the greater good.

"It is a rugby stadium but if they can use it and help relieve the pressure on the NHS, I think it's great what they have done.

"It is is not only at the stadium because they have also transformed the WRU National Centre of Excellence into a hospital in a couple of weeks.

"Hopefully it will not be used and it is more precautionary than anything else."

Williams' comments were echoed by Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies.

"This is the toughest match it (Principality Stadium) has played," said Davies.

"It is very emotional to look at what has been done and credit to the Welsh Government, NHS and our own WRU staff who have worked their proverbial socks off."

Player posers

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The pandemic means it is uncertain when Welsh professional rugby will continue, with the Pro14 season indefinitely postponed and Wales' summer tour of Japan and New Zealand in June and July likely to be called off.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, chairman Gareth Davies and New Zealand boss Ian Foster have all admitted the tour seems unlikely, although it has not yet been officially called off.

Williams says the players are just trying to keep busy: "It is a difficult one because it is an awkward situation for our players at this moment, because nobody knows when we are going to start training again or when they will be back playing.

"The last time we were together was the week of the Scotland game [in the Six Nations which had been scheduled for 14 March] when it was called off the day before.

"Nobody knew then how long this would go on, so our strength and conditioning coach Paul Stridgeon has been fantastic.

"The players have been taking weights and watt bikes from the gyms just to tick things over.

Rugby star Jamie Roberts, a qualified doctor, speaks of his voluntary role in the NHS.

"The boys are going to have to train before they play again, because rugby is not the type of game you can just turn on the tap and go a week later.

"They are going to have to have another loaded phase physically. The players are as professional as you can imagine and they look after themselves.

"Rugby is not at the forefront of anybody's minds at the minute. It is more important everybody is safe and we get through this.

"Further down the line we can put more concrete plans in place. So at the minute, like everybody, we are a little bit in limbo."

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