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Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has been taking inspiration from a Welsh international-turned-South Pole explorer as he looks to motivate his splintered squad.

The reigning Guinness PRO14 champions continue to work individually with rugby on shutdown for the foreseeable future.

Lancaster was updating their progress from his own home base in Leeds today.

The PRO14 is suspended indefinitely, while the EPCR were talking on Friday about a potential late-August return for European competitions.

Given the full-contact nature of the sport, rugby could be one of the very last to return even behind-closed-doors.

Lancaster was asked today if the squad would have any qualms about resuming, "To be honest, we've never had those discussions - at least I haven't anyway.

"The only impression I get when I communicate through the playing group is that everyone's just rolling their sleeves up and trying to deal with what's in front of them.

"Everyone's very aware of the bigger picture, and the responsibility that we all have to have to look after everyone in the community. That's the primary focus really.

"The vibe I'm getting back from the players is positive, it's strong. They've adapted."

Storming, norming, performing

Lancaster says he's used the example set by former Wales back-row Richard Parks, albeit in slightly more extreme settings.

After his retirement from rugby in 2009, Parks completed the 737 Challenge - climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, and completing the Three Poles Challenge (North Pole, South Pole, summit of Everest) in three months.

Since then, Parks has gone on to make the most journeys and skied the greatest distance (2,229m/3,700km) solo, unsupported and unassisted in Antarctica over a ten-year span.

 

"He talked about his process of walking on his own, in isolation effectively", Lancaster told his video conference.

"And he went through this 'storming, norming, performing'.

"So the storming bit, as in 'I'm just battling on trying to get going'; the norming bit - 'I'm getting used to this'; and now the performing piece where 'actually I'm really making progress towards my goal of walking in isolation to the South Pole'.

"I think they're in that 'norming, performing' [situation]".

Baby steps

When Leinster can finally return to the field, Lancaster fully envisages that happening in empty stadiums.

"The steps are going to have to be baby steps to start with", the former England head coach said about implementing a return plan.

"Can we train safely? Can we train in small groups safely? Can we train in larger groups safely? Can we train collectively? Can we train in training games? Can we then play in competitive games?"

Large gatherings in Ireland are outlawed until the start of September anyway, meaning any late-summer return is bound to be a quiet one.

"Obviously from our point-of-view, something is better than nothing," Lancaster says with some caution.

"We want to get back as soon as we can, but equally I don't think anyone's wanting to rush that process.

"I think we're all very aware of the seriousness of the situation in society, so I don't think there's anyone from Leinster's perspective or my perspective trying to rush this process.

"We do what's right for society, not what's right for sport."


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Covid-19 Guinness Pro14 Heineken Champions Cup Leinster Richard Parks Stuart Lancaster

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