Adrian Lam's "concern" as more Super League games called off due to Covid-19

Adrian Lam admits he is concerned after two more Super League games fell victim to the rise in Covid-19 infections.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 11:28 am
More games are to be hit by Covid

Catalans had been due to play Castleford Tigers on Saturday, but the Tigers have more than seven of their top 25 players required to isolate either following positive Covid tests or as close contacts, allowing them to postpone the match under the protocols.

Hull KR had been due to play at St Helens on Friday, but Saints also have more than seven of their top 25 players required to isolate either following positive Covid tests or as close contacts, and that fixture has also been postponed.

Wigan halfback Jackson Hastings called for regular testing, and the close contact system, to be scrapped following the relaxing of Covid restrictions earlier this week.

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He tweeted: “You can’t open the county up ‘back to normal’ and expect players and or people in general to magically dodge Covid.

“Either need to stop testing players, or get rid of the close contacts or we won’t have a season and maybe a sport. Need to act now, before it’s too late.”

And centre Zak Hardaker tweeted: "Something needs changing. The game's heading one way. Majority of players (stood down) it’s to do with close contact and haven’t even had covid/symptoms. For the future of RL needs changing, and quick. Only my opinion."

Tony Smith's Robins have not played since June 18 when they toppled Wigan, a third successive win which lifted them into the top six, but they have played four games fewer than some of their rivals. The Super League table is again decided by win percentage but teams must have played 18 games to qualify for the top-six play-offs.

The Robins, though, will still play as their previously postponed match with Catalans has been rearranged for this Saturday.

And Wigan coach Lam said: "It's unfortunate other clubs are finding it difficult. It is a concern, one of the clubs has played four games less than us at the moment, but we're doing a good job here and staying positive.

"It'd be nice if everyone has roughly played the same number of games (by the end of the year)."

Friday's round 15 fixture between Leigh and Warrington was called off on Monday after the Wolves reported another positive test, on top of the ones that caused the postponement of their previous game against Hull KR.

The latest setbacks take the number of postponements in Super League to 12 while two more were cancelled after a combination of Covid protocol and injuries meant Castleford and Huddersfield were unable to raise a team.

Karen Moorhouse, the RFL’s chief regulatory officer, said: “The growing number of postponements, while reflecting the prevalence of Covid-19 in society, is a major concern for Rugby League as for other sports.

“In that context, Hull KR’s willingness to rearrange their away match against Catalans Dragons is an example of the flexibility that served the sport so well through 2020, and which may be required over the coming weeks and months.”

Rhodri Jones, Super League chief commercial officer said: “I would like to thank Hull KR for their willingness to accommodate a late fixture change to this week’s schedule and helping to ensure a game goes ahead in Perpignan.”

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It will be the fifth postponement for Hull KR, who are the club most seriously impacted by the pandemic's new wave. Their derby against Hull FC has been called off twice and is not guaranteed to be arranged for a third time.

With only eight weeks left of the regular season after this weekend, Hull KR could face some difficulty getting in the eight fixtures they still need to fulfil in order to meet the minimum of 18 required to qualify for the play-offs.

Two fixtures in Betfred League 1 have already been postponed while Sunday's Championship match between London Broncos and Widnes has been cancelled.