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Ireland hit by Covid-19 scare ahead of All Blacks clash

Ireland go through preparations at their captain’s run at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Ireland go through preparations at their captain’s run at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Ireland have been hit by a Covid-19 scare ahead of Sunday’s (NZ time) test match against the All Blacks in Dublin.

The Irish Rugby Football Union released a statement on the eve of the match announcing that an unnamed player had reported a “potential positive case” of coronavirus.

Further testing has been undertaken to determine whether the result was a false positive, while members of the squad and management team have undergone additional lateral flow and PCR testing, according to the statement.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell may have to call on one of the players who has been put on standby.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Ireland coach Andy Farrell may have to call on one of the players who has been put on standby.

Ireland defence coach Simon Easterby said back-up players had been put on standby but, as of Saturday morning (NZT), no one had been ruled out.

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

All Blacks

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick on playing Ireland in Dublin this weekend.

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

Ireland are not the only team to have their preparations disrupted by Covid-19 this weekend.

England prop Ellis Genge has been ruled out of Sunday’s (NZT) clash against the Wallabies after recording a positive test.

It comes after England captain Owen Farrell was pulled from the side to face Tonga last week following a test result that was eventually proven to be a false positive.

While Ireland face an anxious wait over whether they will be forced into any late changes against the All Blacks, Easterby said there was no danger of the match being called off.

“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.

Ireland are waiting to hear if the potential Covid case in their camp was a false positive.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Ireland are waiting to hear if the potential Covid case in their camp was a false positive.

“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.”

All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock said the potential positive case “doesn’t change too much” in terms of his side’s preparation for the match.

“Obviously we’re under our bubble protocol, which is the same for every team over here at the moment,” he said in his Saturday morning (NZT) captain’s Zoom call.

“What it potentially does change is a little bit around pre-game, I think we’ve got to meet the ref out on the field versus in the changing rooms. So a couple of little things like that, but it’s something that we’ve dealt with before and you’ve just got to roll with it a little bit.

“The main thing is you’re just hoping the player who’s tested positive, that they’re healthy and they don’t get too sick and all those things. So it’s something that we’re aware of, and when we get more information we can tell the boys, but at the moment it’s where it is.”

The test at Aviva Stadium kicks off at 4.15am Sunday (NZT).



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