Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson is facing the challenges many people are experiencing in lockdown.
His wife is a GP, he has a relatively new business venture that has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and he is worrying about family members living alone through the crisis.
But the 36-year-old is determined to give others a boost in these difficult times by ringing up complete strangers – who are Exeter fans – to have a chat.
— Exeter Chiefs at 🏡 (@ExeterChiefs) April 7, 2020
“There is a lot of negativity around and this gives people a boost,” said Steenson, who has been involved in the #MakeThatCall campaign.
“It made me feel better too. I remember when I was young and met my sporting heroes and the excitement of seeing and speaking to them.
“To sit and have a conversation with someone is important. Everyone should do it.”
It is certainly important for Steenson who admits it was a worry when his wife Karen returned to the doctors’ surgery in Exmouth to work.
A post shared by Gareth Steenson (@gsteenson10) on Mar 23, 2020 at 2:45am PDT
He said: “She’s OK, she’s in a surgery but it’s still a worry. She was nervous at the start because there was a lot of unknown.
“I ask her how the day was but we don’t watch the news. We try and focus on what we can do.
“She’s staying well and hopefully that will continue.”
With his mother and mother-in-law living alone – he admits “for them to be stuck in the house it is very difficult” – Steenson has the added concern of his popular bar in Exeter called The Stand Off.
— TheStandOff (@TheStandOffExe) March 30, 2020
Five full-time staff have been furloughed at the live music venue, but he is very optimistic about its future.
He said: “It’s obviously a concern but we will not know until we are out of this.
“When we can open we will have things in place and will follow any rules. I’m sure people will still want to come out.”
As for rugby, Steenson is keeping fit with regular weight sessions and some running, before attention turns to his two young boys and their education.
— Gareth Steenson (@steeno10) April 22, 2020
“I’ve normally done by eight o’clock and the home school starts at eight-thirty,” he said, in an attempt to keep to a routine.
But the return of his sport and the continuation of the Gallagher Premiership season is still a target, with the end of June or beginning of July the aim.
“People want to play, but obviously we need to make sure it is safe,” he said.
“We are working on the basis we are going back to play rugby.”
In the meantime Steenson will continue to ring up Exeter fans as part of the #MakeThatCall campaign.
Wasps devised the campaign with the aim of supporting their fans during the coronavirus crisis.
Other Premiership clubs have been taking part and players have been calling NHS staff, other key workers, and vulnerable people including the elderly.
“You get in your own little bubble and it’s nice to touch base with someone,” said Steenson.
“I’ve spoken to a few people so far. A lady and her son who had just got a new puppy and how they train their new little dog.
“It was nice to speak to people and see what they were doing.”