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Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara: "We are just glad to be back"

The campaign resumes at Headingley.

Super League will finally be able to switch focus back to the field as the competition resumes after a long and troubled break this weekend.

More than four months have passed since rugby league's top flight was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and it has not survived intact.

Toronto Wolfpack have been forced to abandon the 2020 season
Toronto Wolfpack have been forced to abandon the 2020 season (Mike Egerton/PA)

Toronto Wolfpack, the bright new hope for the game's expansion, have been the biggest casualties, being forced to withdraw from the remainder of their debut campaign after hitting major financial problems.

Difficult times still lie ahead for others, who have needed the help of the Government furlough scheme to reach the point of restart. Clubs have been forced to accept a cut in future TV revenue and a £16million government loan to soften the blow may not stretch far and is a potential burden.

On top of that, in a further hit to income streams, games will need to be played behind closed doors for at least the next two months.

There should at least be something positive to discuss from Sunday, though, as action returns with champions St Helens facing Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield battling Leeds in a double-header at Headingley.

Catalan coach Steve McNamara is looking forward to the return of competition
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara is looking forward to the return of competition (Richard Sellers/PA)

With travel from France to the UK and back for all games in the next five weeks, and the need to keep all players in a biosecure bubble for journeys and games, Catalans are facing greater expense than others.

Yet coach Steve McNamara echoes the thoughts of many when, at last, the end of the hiatus is in sight.

McNamara told the PA news agency: "It is very tough for everybody involved but we all the want the competition to restart and we want to be part of that.

"I don't think any team cares who they are playing, where or when at this stage. We're just glad to be back.

"It is very different for us. We only fly in to play on the day of the game and then fly straight back after the game.

"It has put additional expense on the club doing it this way but it is something we have had to do. We wanted to do whatever was needed."

Headingley will host the return to action - but without the fans
Headingley will host the return to action – but without the fans (Richard Sellers/PA)

Saints coach Kristian Woolf can sense the anticipation in his squad.

Woolf said: "It's been a really good week. As expected, the players are really excited and really jovial, really happy to be back together and back in some normality.

"This week, being game week and the first one we've had for a very long time, you can just sense a bit of a different edge – an edge in terms of excitement and being ready to play."

Adjusting to the new protocols has not been plain sailing, however.

"I'll admit I butted heads with our Covid officer quite a bit the first week about what we can do and what we can't," said Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford.

"It's very frustrating but it's all to keep everybody safe and healthy of course and we all understand that. We're all grateful we're able to get back and play."

There have also been changes to the game, most notably with scrums removed on health grounds and a new 'six-again' rule – where set restarts are awarded instead of penalties for certain offences – introduced.

Scrums will no longer be a feature of Super League in 2020
Scrums will no longer be a feature of Super League in 2020 (Danny Lawson/PA)

How the game now looks will only become apparent on Sunday.

Leeds coach Richard Agar said: "Every team is operating off the same rules and restrictions, and there are some new rules obviously in place around the game and the way it is going to be played.

"I think it's like a first game of the season and I think there will be a fair bit of unknown in there."

The Rugby Football League has announced nobody involved this weekend – players, club staff and match officials – tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest round of tests.

Of 540 tests carried out this week, 538 were negative with two results still awaited. Of the two outstanding, only one is of a player and not from any of the four clubs playing on Sunday.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina23141350
United StatesUnited States20231659
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right

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