Papas claims the Covid break was good for Jets

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It’s now been 34 days since Newcastle Jets played against Macarthur on December 19. Despite the length of time off the field, Arthur Papas is looking on the bright side.

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It would come as no surprise to anyone if Papas and Newcastle were anxious and unsettled about an unprecedented five weeks off the field. However, according to Papas, there’s plenty of positives to take from the break.

“It’s an opportunity that you don’t get within a normal season,” he said.

“To be able to stop and look at that first block of play and think about the areas we want to improve on has been a positive. We’ve been able to put in some good work.

“It’s also been an opportunity for the guys to work on themselves individually to get better but also for the group and the way we want to play.”

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Despite choosing to look on the bright side, Papas acknowledges that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

“It hasn’t been an easy period for anyone. On three occasions we thought we were playing the next day and then its cancelled very late in the piece.

“It does dent a little bit of your momentum.”

Newcastle have also had their fair share of Covid positive players, disrupting their training schedule and ability to train as a team.

“I think 80-90% of the squad have now contracted the virus. We haven’t been able to train as a squad for a few weeks but hopefully this week we get the guys back.”

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Despite the challenges of the past five weeks and giving up their Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve to train for games that never eventuated, Papas says there’s no lost enthusiasm within the squad.

“The group of players that we’ve got are extremely focused. They get along really well which is important when you have to spend so much time together not knowing when the next game is coming.

“It’s a good dressing room in terms of the energy in the change room and the culture they’re building.”

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With the hope of their next game against Adelaide United going ahead next weekend, Papas is confident the men in gold will be back on the field shortly.

“It looks like we’re turning a corner and hopefully by the weekend we’ve got everyone back training,” he said.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll be playing next weekend.”

With five weeks’ worth of postponed games, there’s a high chance that Newcastle and other teams in similar situations will be playing more than one game a week for the near foreseeable future.

“I’d say 70-75% of the time we’ll have more than one game a week. So that’s going to put some strain on the squad but that’s also going to create opportunity.

“We’ve signed a lot of younger players that we really want to expose to first grade football so if anything, it’s going to give them a bigger opportunity to put their best foot forward.”

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Given the amount of time off and ability to prepare for upcoming games, there’s no excuse for Newcastle to be lacklustre when they return to the field.

“It’s given us an opportunity to work on the way we want to play and keep getting fitter as well while the games are absent,” Papas said.

“You could say we’ve had six weeks to prepare for our next game.

“We’ll be ready for it.”

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Grace Clegg
Grace Clegg
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Communication (News Media and PR) at the University of Newcastle. Coffee addict.

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