Northampton Saints centre Rory Hutchinson took to social media on Friday morning to pay tribute to the work being done by the NHS during the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The 24-year-old admits the majority of his time at home with teammate Alex Moon has been spent working out, playing hours of PlayStation, and chatting on WhatsApp with his fellow Saints.
But with north of 22,000 cases of COVID-19 now confirmed in the UK, Scotland international Hutchinson insists it is important for everyone to show their appreciation for the doctors, nurses and other staff who are working so hard to save lives.
“I tweeted my support because you have got to give all the wonderful NHS workers and all the volunteers all the credit because of the job they are doing,” Hutchinson told TalkingRugbyUnion.
“We will support them all the way and hopefully we can all get through this together.
“I know someone who works within the NHS so you realise how big of a job it is. My Auntie works for them and she has been working so hard, and is doing a brilliant job.”
Just over a month ago, Hutchinson was over in Italy earning his fifth international cap under Gregor Townsend, as Scotland defeated the Azzurri in the Six Nations.
And the centre admits that weekend in Rome now feels like a lifetime ago, having been following the guidelines given by Saints and unable to kick a rugby ball in anger since Northampton’s 16-10 win over Worcester Warriors at the beginning of the month.
He said: “I can’t really believe what has happened since then, to be honest. I think no-one expected to be where we are today.
“Hopefully we can stop this as soon as possible if everyone stays at home and stays safe.”Rory Hutchinson
“Three or four weeks ago, we were out in the sun playing Italy away, so it just shows how scary this virus is. It’s turned quickly so hopefully we can stop this as soon as possible if everyone stays at home and stays safe.
“I’ve been trying to keep fit. I live with Alex Moon, so we borrowed some of the gym kit from the Club which we have set up in the garage, and we have been working out every other day.
“We have been doing a few runs and gone out on the bike, so we are just trying to keep fit because we don’t know when the season is going to come back.
“I don’t think you can sit back and relax because it will be hard to get back out there when everything is back to normal.
“We are eating well, and – in a way – it has actually been good for myself as I have learnt to meal prep! I normally just go to the shop every day and grab whatever is on the shelves, so it has been a learning curve for buying food in the week. We’re doing OK up to this point!”
Whilst Hutchinson and Moon are stocking their fridge with “shepherd’s pies and prawn curries”, they are also making the conscious effort to stay in regular contact with their teammates.
“We have taken a three-week break from the club. It is about staying a home, but mentally, it is important to also go outside and do some exercise if you can.
“For us, we have been sent programmes and running sessions to try and keep us ticking over, so we are trying to do that to the best of our ability.
“Apart from that, as a team, we haven’t really been able to see each other, but we have been keeping in touch and we’ve played a lot of online gaming. The PlayStation has taken quite a beating!
“We are keeping the conversations flowing – and we keep communicating and working as a team on the PlayStation so it has been good fun!”
With the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup competitions currently on hold, Hutchinson would love a return to action with the men in Black, Green and Gold as soon as the guidance allows.
But the Scottish centre knows there are more important things to worry about than rugby at the moment.
He said: “It’s obviously not good for the season to be paused when we were doing quite well.
“It’s tough because you put all that hard work in at the beginning of the season to then not really know the outcome. Hopefully things get back on track because we all want to play, but health comes first.
“Rugby is just a game and looking after ourselves is the number one priority.”