Ireland report potential Covid-19 case ahead of New Zealand clash

Players and staff are having further tests but defence coach Simon Easterby said there was no danger of Saturday’s fixture being cancelled.
Ireland report potential Covid-19 case ahead of New Zealand clash

By Ed Elliot, PA, Dublin

Ireland have reported a “potential positive case” of coronavirus ahead of Saturday’s autumn international against New Zealand in Dublin.

Further testing has been undertaken to determine whether the result was a false positive, according to a statement released by the Irish Rugby Football Union.

All members of the squad and management team have undergone additional lateral flow and PCR testing.

Ireland defence coach Simon Easterby said back-up players had been put on standby but, as of Friday afternoon, no one been ruled out of the game.

“We’ve retested today and the important thing is we get clarity,” he said.

“As you know where you can have false positives and we have to make sure we give those guys an opportunity, give the respect to them, and it’s important we allow that process to happen.

“They are part of the game, we’re not the only team across the last couple of weeks who’ve had to deal with Covid issues.

Defence coach Simon Easterby urged Ireland's players to remain focused
Defence coach Simon Easterby urged Ireland’s players to remain focused (Donall Farmer/PA)

“The important thing is we stay focused and don’t allow the little things that happen derail us, that we stay focused.”

England captain Owen Farrell – son of Ireland head coach Andy Farrell – last week missed his country’s win over Tonga following a positive which later turned out to be false.

Ireland, who thumped Japan 60-5 last weekend, have won just two of 32 previous meetings with the All Blacks.

Following the hosts’ captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium, Easterby said there was no danger of the fixture being called off.

England captain Owen Farrell returned a false positive last weekend
England captain Owen Farrell returned a false positive last weekend (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“If it wasn’t challenging already, it gets more challenging when you deal with certain things that are outside your control,” he said.

“But, I guess that’s part of the challenge, the game certainly won’t run all our way, it won’t run smoothly all the time.

“We’ve had a couple of potholes in the road today, but we have had a really good team run.

“There’s a bit of clarity needed about the players who didn’t make that team run, but hopefully in the next couple of hours we’ll have that, and we can look forward to tomorrow and put today behind us.”

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