COVID-outbreak can't stop Ireland v All Blacks Test
PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP: Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby said this weekend’s international with New Zealand will go ahead despite two home players missing Friday’s training session after one tested positive for COVID-19.
The other squad member failed to take part due to being in close contact with the unnamed individual who returned the positive sample.
England captain Owen Farrell was ruled out of playing Tonga last Saturday due to what turned out to be a false positive test.
“A potential positive case has been identified in one person via the latest PCR testing carried out on the Ireland squad,” read an Irish Rugby Football Union statement.
“Additional testing is being undertaken to establish if this is a false positive.
“The lateral flow testing returned no positives and the PCR results are expected later today [Friday].”
As Ireland await the test results, Easterby said replacements have been called in, in case both the players are unable to feature.
“No,” was Easterby’s response when asked had he doubts the much-anticipated clash would go ahead as planned at a sold-out Lansdowne Road.
“If it was not already enough of a challenge [taking on the All Blacks] it just got more challenging,” said the former Ireland flanker.
“These things are outside our control but it tests our ability to adapt and get on the front foot and we did that today despite a couple of potholes in the road.
“We had a really good run out.”
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Easterby said they would not allow this to unsettle their focus on securing a third win over the All Blacks in the past five years.
“We re-tested today [Friday] as the important thing is to get clarity,” he said.
“There can be some false positives and in the next hour or so we will have clarity.
“These challenges are part and parcel of the game, we are not the only team who have had to cope with it over the past few weeks.
“We will not let it derail us and we will focus on the game.”
Easterby said some players had experienced similar last-minute “hiccups” since the COVID-19 swept across the globe early last year.
“The players have become used to living with COVID and been through those moments with their provinces,” he said.
“There have been hiccups along the way, this is a different environment and they are dealing with it very well.
“You know this is the reality and you cannot let it get to you.
“We must be as focused as we can be and the guys coming in the other players will ensure they know what their roles are.