John Mulvihill has praised the invaluable work of partners, who have made it possible for Cardiff Blues to set up a ‘top class’ training base at the Pentwyn Leisure Centre.
The move has been possible due to support from Cardiff Council and Pentwyn Leisure Centre, as well as long-term sponsors, High Motive, who have provided key equipment to ensure Covid-19 regulations are followed.
Mulvihill believes it’s heartwarming to see organisations from the local community coming together to assist his side ahead of a return to action in August, and says the reception from the players about the standard of the facility has been overwhelming.
The head coach said: “It’s been fantastic, while we haven’t been playing, that a lot of the sponsors have got behind us to make sure we could start in Pentwyn.
“There’s been a lot of work done between the Pentwyn Leisure Centre and the council, and those negotiations have been fantastic in giving us a temporary home.
“We’ve also set up a Covid-19 task-force, so there’s been a number of things that we had to do in order to get into the building, before they can train.
“It’s a top class facility, and probably one of the best that they’ve trained in over the last seven or eight years.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can develop that partnership with them moving forward.
“High Motive have been supporters of ours for a long time, and help us out with out communications on game day and at training.
“They’ve jumped on board to give us a sanitiser machine and they’ve got a demountable at the front that we can use in case of inclement weather when we do our testing.
“They’ve also got the world class heat sensor for our temperature checks each morning, which is the second checks for us, but they’re proud partners and I’m looking forward for them to continue with us.
“It’s nice to see them coming on board again in a bigger scope.”
It’s been more than a week since the squad have returned to training, following individual training schedules during lockdown.
They currently training in smaller groups of seven, with most of the training held at Pentwyn Leisure Centre, with the Welsh Institute of Sports in Sophia Gardens also utilised.
The head coach says it’s been great to see the boys back in each other’s company and insists the focus is on conditioning at the moment, to ensure the players are at their physical peak when play resumes later in the summer.
Mulvihill added: “The last four months have been a challenge to get the group together because there’s been limited time to be able to talk to them.
“We’re in the new normal now. We’ve got the boys in groups of seven at the moment. You can have up to 10 but we’re trying to minimise any risk factors.
“The boys go through their conditioning done and having medical checks, and are doing basic skills after that.
“It’s about getting a bit of turnover in the legs, so that when we start phase two, with units and group training, the boys will be in better shape.
“It’s really important that we get the S&C and fitness into them in the first three weeks of training.
“It’s an eight week block altogether, up until the first game, so there’s a real focus on S&C in the first six with a little bit of skill and team-work later on in the block.
“The boys came in for their first session and said it was like the first day of school again. They’ve missed each other’s company and they’re better as a group.
“It’s good to see the banter around and the boys were in good shape when they came back.
“They haven’t done a lot of weights, so they’ve lost a bit of size, but fitness-wise they’re in really good nick. If there’s something they’ve all been able to do in lockdown, it’s running.
“They’ve been out doing that but I think they’ve missed that company and it’s good to see them back.
“They’re all professional athletes so they had to find a way of ticking over, which they did. Although I don’t think Dmitri Arhip’s neighbours are speaking to him because he crushed all of their bins by using them as squat racks.
“They adapted and overcame and in the early stages, where they could go in groups of two or three, they used each other’s garages but when it got a bit serious, and all you could do was solo training, they had to be a bit more creative.
“They could see, in the gym this week, the boys who had access to weights and guys who didn’t. It will take us a few weeks to get back to game weight.