Assistant coach Trent Barrett during Penrith Panthers NRL training at Penrith. Picture: Brett Costello
Assistant coach Trent Barrett during Penrith Panthers NRL training at Penrith. Picture: Brett Costello

Inside NRL clubs’ strict coronavirus protocols

Penrith has scrapped finger food, lollies and rice crackers from their dressing room with all players also banned from carpooling to Friday night's match against St George Illawarra at Kogarah.

And The Daily Telegraph can reveal Penrith will use around 100 to 150 single-use hand and face towels, wiping a player just once before being discarded.

The Panthers have ditched all communal finger food - including lollies and rice crackers - from their dressing sheds for fear players will eat the food and then place their fingers back into the bowls and packets.

It comes after Panthers group CEO Bran Fletcher spoke with the club's playing group inside the Panthers Academy theatrette on Wednesday, focusing on personal hygiene while at training and at home.


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The Daily Telegraph can also reveal:

* All players have been told to drive individually to Jubilee Stadium to avoid unnecessary contact with teammates;

* Towels used on massage tables will also be used once and then thrown out;

* Players have regularly had their temperatures taken this week with anyone above 37.5 degrees considered concerning;

* Massage tables will be wiped down with alcohol after each use;

* Penrith will take just 19 players and 12 staff members, including the coaching team, to Kogarah; and

* Panthers players could use The Mercure Hotel, which adjoins the Leagues Club, to self-isolate if needed.



"We asked the players to own what they can control, even the simple things. If someone puts out a packet of rice crackers out or the big bowls of lollies in the change rooms, players can put their fingers in their mouth and then double dip," Panthers medical and rehabilitation coordinator Craig Catterick said.

"We have taken it out of the equation. We will now give out individual packs - pretzels, muesli bars, all individually wrapped. We are trying to take out all the communal contact.

"Trainers also run out onto the field and we have towels hanging off our belts. A towel normally goes around but this is about being vigilant.

"Now it will be one wipe and the towel will be thrown away, or maybe one towel per player. It could take hundreds of towels - or you don't take a towel out there at all. It's a logistical nightmare for every club in the league now.

"Like every club, we are very vigilant on water bottles. They can't go anywhere near a mouth anymore."



At the meeting, Catterick even asked players to count to 20 - reminding them of the time frame needed to thoroughly wash their hands.

"It was to give them a concept of how long 20 seconds was - and that's how long it takes to wash your hands to combat this particular virus," he said.

Penrith has dozens of sanitisers located around the Panthers Academy. Club officials have, for now, elected against asking players to wear face masks.

"We stressed the isolation to the players," said Fletcher. "They understood how we could not risk this game being played. The players have been told that when they finish their game on Friday night they have to go straight home."

Kick off is at 6pm.



Originally published as Inside NRL clubs' strict coronavirus protocols