Tom Youngs admits the break from games has been “tough” on the Leicester Tigers squad, but also believes that as a group in the early stages of being re-shaped under Steve Borthwick they are making the most of it.
Speaking from home after a quick trip into the club’s Oval Park base for the weekly round of Covid testing, Youngs said: "I think anybody who says they’ve enjoyed it would be telling a fib. It has been tough, really tough. But – as scripted as it may sound – you just have to adapt and get on with it.
"It has been hard because the training we do and everything that comes with it around recovery and your diet, lifestyle, is all part of being the best you can be for game day.
"So not having games and that weekly target does make it more challenging – that’s the truth.”
Club captain Youngs might be forgiven for feeling more frustrated than most after being halted on 199 Tigers appearances before cancellation of the derby at Northampton Saints a fortnight ago.
But, unsurprisingly, the hard-working, no-nonsense front-rower, says the Leicester squad made a decision to adapt to whatever was put in front of them.
“We as a group at Tigers made the decision that we would just get on with the next job,” added Youngs.
"That might be a weights session, a front-rowers meeting or a recovery day, it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s just about ticking off the next job and being the best you can be in that challenge.”
And, given the worldwide impact of the virus, Youngs also believes the privilege of being able to continue to work is something that cannot be ignored.
"We need to know how privileged we are that we can keep getting up and going to ‘work’ every day,” he said.
"People all over England and around the world haven’t got that luxury, so we need to be making the most of it.
"You can’t be whinging or negative because we are already lucky enough to be professional rugby players and – during the pandemic – we are even more fortunate to be able to keep doing what we love and, hopefully, bringing some joy to those who have it much harder than us at this challenging time.”
Wisdom comes with experience and that may play a factor in his mindset, admits Youngs, but he also believes that it’s not just the senior players who have adopted the approach, with the focus from top-to-bottom at Tigers about getting on with the job at hand.
"I’m a bit older than most in this group, so maybe I see it a little different, but I would say across this squad and all the coaches and staff at the club too, everyone is just getting on with the next job and getting on with rebuilding Leicester Tigers at this early stage in this group of players, coaches and staff’s time together,” said the Leicester captain.
"Get your head down, stay busy and work hard – that’s where we’re at here at Tigers and I think we are seeing good signs of improvement, but also we all fully understand that it doesn’t happen overnight, it won’t happen quickly and the work only gets harder and there is a long way to go on this journey."