The Munster players have been working on remote training programs since the middle off March. Chris Farrell spoke with Munster Rugby about life in lockdown and the scheduled resumption of training in June.
Read the IRFU update on the proposed return to train and play here.
Along with training from home, a number of squad members have also been using this time to upskill for their post-rugby career.
For his personal development in terms of education, Farrell has been identifying courses that will aid his post-rugby career and plans, working with a mentor and identifying the study route he wishes to take.
Speaking about the remote training programme, he said: “It’s going well actually, getting out of the house and doing a bit of training has been the highlight of the day, and we’re lucky to be in a position to train away thanks to the efforts of so many others.
“With the lockdown, everyone is really limited in terms of the travelling that we can do and what you can see. Heading down to the park and setting up cones early in the morning and doing a bit of running when the park is quiet is really enjoyable.
“It’s probably the easiest part of it, going out and getting a run in. It’s probably the aspect that I would have thought would have been the hardest but it’s actually easy because it’s very refreshing for the mind getting into the park in the morning.
“It’s actually a lot more effort getting set up to do the gym stuff than going out for a run.
“We have all the gym equipment from the High Performance Centre at home so trying to cart that stuff out of the house and onto the patio and getting stuck into it and then packing it all away…thankfully we have been really lucky with the weather.”
Along with the physical training, the squad have also been concentrating on improving their skill levels.
Farrell said: “I have been enjoying it. Obviously Steve [Stephen Larkham] has been pushing a lot on the skills aspect of things and how we do skills.
“We have been doing a lot of work on our own skills-wise, even just hand to eye co-ordination, tennis balls, different skills, not just rugby skills but just trying to develop ourselves as athletes all round.”
The team have even managed to add a competitive edge to training.
“We split the entire squad into groups of six or seven and there’s a leader and a coach assigned to each group.
“We have been doing mini tasks within those groups, skills tasks where you time yourself doing a certain amount of skills and then it’s been getting competitive – seeing who’s winning the most.
“Then just last week we did a few conditioning-based tasks where we combined our times together in a time-trial type thing and seeing which group won at the end, so that’s been good.
“Each team has a separate whatsapp group and they work together and compete against the other teams so we’re just encouraging each other with our times and videoing them to see that no-one is cutting corners. A few dodgy enough times have come in, from other groups obviously!
“Johann has then presented to the winners during our remote team meetings.”
The enforced break has meant that the players haven’t had contact training for over 10 weeks with the players feeling fresher as a result.
“We obviously haven’t had any contact training so the body couldn’t feel fresher than it does at the moment,” said Farrell.
“That’s probably the general consensus from most people, unless they’re carrying an injury into the down period.
“Everyone is feeling unbelievably fresh and it has been a really good period because during the season you’re sore going into Monday or Tuesday and the body might need an extra day to recover and you don’t get to develop yourself as much as we can do at the minute.
“Physically it has been a really good opportunity to put on a bit of lean mass.”
Remote team meetings have also become the new norm.
Farrell explained: “Everybody has had to adapt to the technology and being able to share screens and have remote meetings. JP Ferreira [Defence Coach] and Steve Larkham [Senior Coach] have both on numerous occasions had meetings with us and reviewed the season so far and had a look on where we have gone well and what we need to improve on and pulled out loads of clips for us to watch.
“It is quite a good way to stimulate yourself even if you’re not in the HPC to be able to watch a compilation of clips of someone else doing something really. We had a few clips of ball-carrying ability and were shown some top-class performers who are really good at that and some clips of them doing this over and over again.
“Just trying to stimulate us and trying to improve on those things, mentally more so than physically.
“The online team meetings all went really well so we will be doing a couple more of those.”
With no rugby scheduled at the moment, there will be down time for the players but Farrell doesn’t envisage much change for the squad.
“I don’t think there will be too much difference with what happens in the off-season with what has been going on for the last eight to nine weeks,” he said.
“Players will still want to keep fit and not lose the gains we’ve been working hard on over the last nine weeks.
“If you’re in the routine of it, why stop? You can’t go traveling, you’re still limited with the amount of people you can see with your friends and family.
“I think for most of us will probably taper down a little bit and spend longer blocks at the weekend where we’re not working maybe Friday, Saturday, Sunday off.
“But, for the most part, we’ll probably try and maintain what we’ve done so far.”