Leinster Rugby backs coach Felipe Contepomi has been pleased with the squad’s return to training as they now take a two-week break following the first block of the province’s return to rugby.

The province’s last outing was the 28 February win over Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO14 before the COVID-19 pandemic called a halt to all sporting events.

The squad returned to training on Monday, 22 June, in smaller groups which were then increased in size last week as they aim towards August interprovincials.

Speaking to the media this morning via a Microsoft Teams video call, Contepomi outlined how the players had maintained their conditioning through lockdown.

“A three-month break for a professional player is a grace, they’ll never get it again, hopefully,” Contepomi said.

“The first week (back) was challenging because we couldn’t even pass the ball, we couldn’t use the ball but they adapted well and we’ve been progressing and building up to more normal rugby.

“When we come back from the break, we’ll be able to play a more normal style of rugby. But, it’s been great these three weeks.”

When asked about the team’s form prior to the suspension of competitions, Contepomi was hopeful that the time spent away from each other will not interfere with the team’s progression, something that has been in building over years rather than just this season alone.

“I would like to think we’ll become stronger from this time. I know momentum is very important in sport but we have to get that back,” he adds.

“It was not a coincidence, we’ve been working and building for the last three years to get that momentum and to get to that type of game we are playing and hopefully we can continue that when we get back to playing.

“It’s definitely a challenge, not only for the players to keep fit but also for us as coaches.

“It’s not about looking at what other teams or other people are doing, it’s about trying to add value to what we want to do and how we want to come back better than we left in March.”

A big advantage in that aspect, Contepomi says, is the very welcome selection headaches as they prepare for games with a full squad of players.

“Many of the guys who have little niggles, bumps and bruises, over three months they’re all gone. They’ve fully recovered fitness-wise.

“When you start rugby and training rugby you might come across an injury but that’s part of the game. For the moment, we are in a great spot.

“I’d rather have that headache than having the headache of not having choices to pick from. I think that competitiveness will bring the level up of young players, keep the level up of senior players.

“There’s no place guaranteed in that squad. I think it’s great. For coaches, it’s all that you can ask for. You might have more difficult conversations but that’s part of the job. I feel that it’s a great place where we are at the moment and, hopefully, the guys can push themselves to get the best out of themselves.”