Feka Paleaaesina has given an insight into the precautions being taken at the Jacuzzi® Elite Performance Centre to protect the first-team squad and coaching staff from COVID-19.
The former Black & White powerhouse forward, who now holds the role as the club’s Player Welfare Officer, is currently holding the reigns as the club’s ‘COVID Officer’ to ensure the precautions are in place and being maintained at the training facility.
The first-team squad returned to training last Monday, with their first fixture of the restarted Betfred Super League season against Salford next Sunday at Emerald Headingley Stadium.
Speaking on the work that went on during lockdown to prepare the facility, he said: “There was a lot of planning that went on behind-the-scenes before we came back. All the departments have mucked in together to get things ready.
“The main thing was to make the players feel safe in this environment; a lot of them have kids and older family members who they obviously want to keep safe, so giving them the confidence to be here with no problems was our main priority.
“There are a lot of smaller things you need to think about to, like redesigning the rooms, cleaning those touch surface you might not necessarily think about. The boys are more spread out when they are doing their prep sessions now, and we only have a maximum of six people if we are in the video review room for example. Hand sanisitseris are at every entrance and every door.
“We are very lucky to have our main club sponsor in Atropa Pharmacy providing us with sanitation products and our PPE gear for our physios and medical staff; stuff like aprons and face masks are really important for them to carry out their roles. Eco Brite have been great coming down to clean the facility regularly too after our session.”
He continued: “There have been some long days and longer nights, but we’re doing what we have achieved to do and that is the main thing.”
Paleaaesina explained that the players have adapted to their new surroundings well, while also explaining the process of arriving at the training ground adding: “Last week was a case of having the players in their smaller groups and familiarising themselves with their new surroundings.
“They’ve worked really hard to get ready to come back too doing their voluntary fitness sessions at home. They’ve come back in good nick and have settled in really well.
“Before they set off for the training ground in a morning, they players have to fill in their Daily Wellbeing Check which includes taking their own temperature. If there are any issues, myself or Chris John will get in touch to tell them what to do. They then get heat tested once again when they arrived and fill out the wellbeing form once again. Its better to double check every think.”
Members of the squad, coaching and performance staff, and a limited number of other administration and media staff across the club undergo COVID-19 testing once a week, with Paleaaesina saying the group are now getting used to the unpleasant process.
“During the first week, a few of the boys were worried that it would be painful and not very enjoyable. But we’ve all had three tests now so I think they’re all getting used to it every Tuesday by now.
“It’s not the nicest experience having something up your nose and down the back of your throat, but if it means we can go about our business in the knowledge we are safe then so be it.”