SUPER League action could return for Saints as early as next month if the UK Government is able to implement stage two of the country’s recovery plan without any delays forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport lovers received light at the end of the tunnel this week when some activities, including golf, fishing and tennis, received the green light to make its comeback under tight conditions from today, Wednesday.

That was a feature of step one of the Government’s road map to lifting lockdown restrictions - that have been in place since March 23 - gradually, while monitoring any impact on the pandemic that mercilessly continues to bring a high death toll across the country.

Step two, to begin no earlier than June 1, includes “Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus, speaking on the Saints TV podcast earlier this week, said the way forward for rugby league is being worked on.

“We don’t know as yet what’s going to happen. It will be Government led,” he said.

“Initially there’s going to be a period for contact sport being behind closed doors.

“There is a formal body in place, which is quasi-government, but involves five sports in which rugby league is one. It’s a behind-closed-doors committee and at a point in time games will be played with medical protocol in place and player welfare at the forefront of that.

“If I were a betting man I would have thought it should be feasible by July and then the real 64million dollar question is when a crowd’s back because to us that is much more important than getting the game back behind closed doors. That’s where the majority of our income derives and it’s critical for us for that to happen at a point in time.

“That is a much more difficult question because of the social distancing rules, so it depends on when they are eased, in what form they are eased in various sectors and industries, but probably the last thing to come back will be mass gatherings.

“A degree of flexibility has to be shown here both in terms of the timings and the format, whether it’s individual games or a certain number of games at a particular stadium on a particular day – to reduce travelling, to enable the medical protocol to be more readily observed and to reduce costs.

“It’s open dialogue in terms of player welfare first and foremost, and finances in getting the games back on TV in the first instance.

“It’ll be great to see rugby league on TV again even if it is initially behind closed doors because it means the first step on the road to recovery.”

The UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy was published on Monday, adding finer detail to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s national address on primetime TV on Sunday night.

Since then, the implications for rugby league have been under the spotlight and a conference call is scheduled for today for the sport to discuss the Government’s route out of lockdown.

One update this week is that players can now tap into the Government’s change of tact on the nation’s opportunities to exercise.

“People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish,” says the document, as the one-hour restriction is lifted.

And although the change also allows for a person/player to exercise with one person from outside their own household, the document adds: “This means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.”

Training sessions at community and junior clubs are not permitted, activity that involves opening clubhouses, changing rooms etc is also not allowed as the emphasis is on exercising outdoors.

With reference to stage two and what happens next, no earlier than June 1, a RFL spokesman said: “The RFL has been working in conjunction with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UK Sport and other sports to agree appropriate protocols relating to the return to training and in due course behind closed doors matches.

“Guidance on the return to training for elite sportsmen and women – individually or in small groups in the first instance - is being finalised at a national level and will then be shared across the sport.

“Work on behind-closed-doors sport will continue, and each sport will then have to consider how the general national protocols are applied to its sport and effectively rolled out.

“The RFL will continue to work in conjunction with Super League, clubs and with player representatives on what these are for rugby league.

“These will relate to hygiene, social distancing and testing – with the focus being on appropriately safeguarding all individuals involved."

“Accordingly, it is not yet appropriate to specify a date when rugby league matches will recommence.”

The possibility of reopening sports stadia to crowds is also referred to in the recovery strategy in step three.

“This may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections,” it says.

Saints last played at Castleford on March 15. Six rounds of Super League and two rounds of the Challenge Cup have passed since.