Eddie Jones: England on Covid rollercoaster as Ellis Genge misses Australia game

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Eddie Jones admits England are on board a Covid-19 rollercoaster as Ellis Genge was ruled out of Saturday’s clash with Australia after becoming the latest player to test positive.

A crisis has developed at loosehead prop after first choice Genge, one of the team’s recently appointed vice-captains, followed bench option Joe Marler into self-isolation ahead of Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash.

It means that Scottish-born Bevan Rodd will make his debut just three days after being called into camp as a replacement for Marler, with Trevor Davison providing cover on the bench.

For the second successive week, England’s eve-of-match preparations have been affected by coronavirus after Owen Farrell missed the 69-3 rout of Tonga because of a false-positive test.

“We just treat it as normal now. Every day is an adventure and we’re on bit of a rollercoaster at the moment. Covid keeps coming. We just accept it and get on with it,” Jones said.

“It’s not going to go away, it will keep coming. Every time we have a case we deal with it better, emotionally and operationally.

“It’s just a fact of life at the moment. You just have to watch the BBC News in the morning and see the number of cases in the UK. It’s out there.

“We are doing everything we can to safeguard the team against it and to try and use some common sense. Since Covid we have had two positive cases in nearly two years so our strike rate is pretty good.”

Eddie Jones (right) admits losing Ellis Genge to Covid is a big blow
Eddie Jones (right) admits losing Ellis Genge to Covid is a big blow (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Missing the Cook Cup clash is a deflating setback for Genge, who for the first time this autumn has established himself as England’s primary loosehead after years of fierce competition with Marler and Mako Vunipola.

Adding to his distress is that the 10-day isolation period means he will also miss the climax to the series and World Cup final rematch against South Africa next Saturday.

“Ellis is enormously disappointed. He’s not sick at all, which is obviously the frustrating thing for him,” Jones said.

“He’s vice captain of this team, loves playing against Australia and loves the challenge of playing at Twickenham.

“He will rebound. It would be an interesting isolation if he and Marler were together! Fortunately they are not because we might only end up with one coming out!

“Everyone has mixed emotions. I was watching the players come through this morning. Some are disappointed for Ellis, others are angry and others just want to get on with it.

“We had a short team meeting. Owen Farrell and the senior players spoke really well, we got everyone back on to the same page and just got on with it. It’s a chance to show what strength we have as a team.”

Into the breach created by Genge’s misfortune is a 21-year-old who was on Scotland’s radar but is now about to be captured by England.

“It’s a great opportunity for a young guy like Bevan Rodd to play his first Test at Twickenham against one of our arch enemies Australia,” Jones said.

“We’ve got the greatest confidence in him, and Trevor’s been in our squad since summer now and deserves the opportunity off the bench.

“I’ve watched Bevan closely for the last 12 months. He’s a fantastic defensive player, a very good chop tackler and a strong scrummager.

“The response the team gave him when he was announced as a starting member was quite emotional.”

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