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Bennett challenges players over COVID-19 pandemic

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues hooker Damien Cook has revealed the pep talk coach Wayne Bennett gave the South Sydney Rabbitohs following the decision to suspend the NRL competition over the coronavirus pandemic.

The competition remains in limbo with the NRL working through several dates for a possible return ranging from 1 June to 1 September contingent on the advice from governments and health authorities who are working together to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Bennett told his players to take this week off as they could potentially be returning and playing late into the year but also stressed the importance of maintaining their fitness while they self-isolate and are unable to attend gyms which have been closed in the public interest.

“I think the boys need to understand they’re currently all employed and they need to stay in shape,” Cook told the Big Sports Breakfast program.

“Wayne spoke about that, this time you really show how much the team means to you by how much you do train and how much you stay in touch with your strength and your fitness and how well you come back, because when we do get back it will only be three or four weeks (before we play).”

Cook said players were given tailor-made programs by the Rabbitohs high performance coach but they were hoping soon for some restrictions to be lifted so they could train together in small groups.

“We’ll find that out on Friday but at least at the moment we know we can train on our own,” Cook said.

“It’s up to you to stay fit as a player and we spoke to the boys at Souths yesterday about you’re better off taking this week off and freshening up because it could be a long season. It could be the latest start date is September so anything’s possible.

“So, freshen up now and take a week off, spend time with your family and once we know what we’re doing we’ll put a plan in place.”