WARRINGTON Wolves co-captain Chris Hill has this week told of his pride in the community – and his wife’s work in the NHS!

The Wire, England and Great Britain prop, who is missing rugby league hugely during the UK coronavirus lockdown, is playing his part in getting through these difficult times in other ways.

He promoted a Warrington Wolves Foundation initiative last weekend to help replenish diminishing local Foodbank stocks and got involved in collecting the donations that the club charity’s eager volunteers had garnered across town.

“The response was overwhelming,” he said.

“I did four pick-ups, Culcheth, Rixton, Woolston and Latchford. I didn’t know whether to go in our smaller car, but it was a good job I went in the seven-seater because it was rammed from floor to ceiling and in the boot.

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“It’s just nice to see people are still generous when times are hard – people taking pay cuts, or laid off, or made redundant.

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Wolves Foundation volunteers with donations for the Foodbank

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Wolves forward Jason Clarke helping out too

“You have to think about other people at this time. I know it’s about our own families, but there’s always someone in a less fortunate position and you just want to help out.

“People have been donating all kinds of things, mostly tinned food because it lasts longer. There was everything from croissants to packets of crisps, even a bottle of champagne.

“I’m proud of all the boys for getting involved in this and other community projects.

“It all boils down to Neil Kelly who runs the community side and he’s fantastic with initiatives like this.

“He probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves really because he runs it all year and this is just the tip of it because we’re in lockdown.

“He’s a credit. He brings the boys on board and the boys are willing to do any little help.

“I’ve said I’ll go down to the foodbank and sort food out or do more pick ups if needed. I’ve got the four kids, but I’ve got a little bit of time on my hands. If everyone chips in, we’ll get through this a little bit easier.”

As for lockdown life generally, Hill admitted to “climbing walls”.

With training at home away from his teammates and helping with home-schooling the kids on many days, daily routines have changed considerably.

And there has been a change of role at work for his wife Kathryn, too.

“My wife’s in the NHS and now working on the wards,” he said.

“She works on the clerical side and when this all kicked off, they asked would anyone like to train up.

“She was working in pre-op on the reception side but all that stopped with there being no operations. Kathryn said she would train up and did a three-day course.

“It’s scary, but she’s really enjoying it. I’m massively proud of her. A lot of people she works with are not comfortable with it which is their own choice, but my wife put her hand up straightaway to help in any way she can.

“She does two days, but they’re long 12-hour shifts. She gets on with it, that’s what she’s like.”

Meanwhile, the suspension of sport continues and Hill is in philosophical mood about it.

“I’m missing the rugby like you would never believe,” he said.

“I was talking about it to one of the people I picked up a food donation from, and they said they probably take rugby league for granted a little bit and that this has been an eye opener in terms of appreciating it.

“But it’s not just rugby league, it’s sport in general and what it does for the country. It’s mad, people live on sport.

“These are weird times. As players we’re ticking over at home as best we can – on the weights and I’ve been running on my local field.

“But it’s hard, the motivation side of it when you’re on your own – it’s not like running around with your mates at training. So that side of it is hard, but at the end of the day it’s my job so we keep going and hopefully we’re over the worst of it and it’s over soon.

“Players have been video chatting each other, 10 to 12 of us at a time and having a good laugh to keep spirits raised.

“My WhatsApp’s pinging left, right and centre because people are bored.

“It’s not like an ordinary job, we’re a bunch of good mates as well. That makes it even more special, and when you’re not getting that bit of banter it’s hard.

“But the boys are in good spirits, everyone’s training hard and doing what they can not just for themselves but the community as well with people putting their hand up to help out.

“We’ve just got to keep plodding on according to government guidelines and we’ll see where that takes us.

“I think there’s talks of playing behind closed doors for the start of it, which would be needs-must, but we’ll see.

“I’ve got a feeling rugby league may come out stronger after this, maybe shaped in a little different way.

“People who are at the top will maybe put their heads together and come up with a different way of doing things.”

Another big change for Hill is his business away from rugby.

“With the plumbing and fitting side, we’re doing emergencies for NHS staff and key workers but there’s only so much you can do with that with social distancing,” he said.

“The showroom’s shut, we’ve had the grants, putting through loans, we’ve furloughed staff, it’s tough times.

“It’s just the way everyone is. I don’t want to sound like nobody else is going through it because everybody is, so I’ll not be moaning we’ve just got to crack on through it and hopefully again be stronger when we come out of it.”

A positive though is the additional time he has had to spend with his wife and children – Connor, 11, Oliver, 7, Niamh, 5 and Iris, 2.

“Obviously a lot of weekends have been taken up with rugby over the past years and away for months with internationals at the end of years, so it’s really good to spend a lot of time with them. Home schooling is killing me though. It’s been hard but we’ll plough on through it.

“During downtime I’ve just been taking them out to the field, having a kick around, on the bikes, trying to get them out as much as possible.

“We’re lucky enough to have a nice back garden and the weather’s been good so that’s been a bonus.”