England plans for Australia clash in chaos after Ellis Genge tests positive for Covid

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England have suffered another Covid-19 blow after Ellis Genge became the second loose-head prop to test positive for the virus this week, meaning debutant Bevan Rodd will start against Australia tomorrow.

The RFU announced this morning that Genge had recorded a positive PCR test, and that they were comfortable that this is not a false positive, ruling him out of tomorrow’s clash with Australia — and next weekend’s meeting with the Springboks — as he is in isolation.

No other players have tested positive today, but another round of tests were arranged, the results of which will be nervously awaited. Lateral flow tests all came back negative, but England are waiting for the PCR results.

Genge is the third player to test positive for England this autumn. Joe Marler, another loose-head, was ruled out of tomorrow’s fixture with Covid earlier this week.

Captain Owen Farrell also tested positive last week, meaning he missed the game against Tonga, only to learn that the result was false.

“Every day is an adventure and we are on a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment — Covid keeps coming,” said Jones.

“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.”

Rodd is promoted to start, with Trevor Davison, who can play both sides of the scrum, coming onto the bench.

“We had a short team meeting this morning,” added Jones. “Owen [Farrell] and the senior players spoke really well, we got everyone back on the same page and just got on with it.

“It’s a chance to show what strength we have as a team. Now we support these two young guys coming through and everyone will just have to step up a little bit.”

Genge, who is symptomless, is part of England’s leadership team and his absence leaves Jones very light at loose-head, with England veteran Mako Vunipola overlooked.

“Ellis is enormously disappointed. He is vice-captain of this team and loves playing against Australia and loves the challenge of playing at Twickenham,” he said.

“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.

“It’s a great opportunity for a young guy like Bevan Rodd to play his fist Test at Twickenham against one of our arch enemies.

“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.

“Bevan is a fantastic defensive player, a very good chop tackler and a strong scrummager and a really good attitude to work and to be part of the team. The response the team gave him when he was announced as a starting member was quite emotional.”

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