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Tuesday Nov 9, 2021

Joe Marler tests positive for covid, misses Wallabies clash

England prop Joe Marler has tested positive for Covid and will miss Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash against Australia.

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Marler began isolating for 10 days on Monday evening after a lateral flow and PCR tests confirmed he has the virus.

The Harlequins forward played 14 minutes as a second-half replacement in the 69-3 victory over Tonga at the weekend that launched the autumn and was destined for a similar role in the second of three fixtures at Twickenham this month.

Since Marler returned the positive result, all lateral flow tests taken by players and staff have been negative. England are waiting for the outcome of an additional round of PCR testing.

It is the second time in four days that Eddie Jones’ squad have experienced a Covid scare after Owen Farrell missed the Tonga rout because of the virus, although his sample was later revealed to be a false-positive.

Now cleared to play, Farrell is likely to be restored at fly-half against the wallabies while Newcastle rookie Trevor Davison is expected to take Marler’s place on the bench.

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New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith will join his country’s squad in Dublin as they prepare for Saturday’s clash with Ireland.

Smith was expected to miss the All Blacks’ autumn campaign following the birth of his son but has been called up after fellow number nine Brad Weber sustained a head knock in the weekend win in Italy.

The 32-year-old Highlanders player has been capped 101 times by the national team and was part of the World Cup-winning squad of 2015.

“I’m just looking to try and help where I can, bring a bit of energy,” he said in a video posted on the All Blacks’ official website.

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“The boys have done so well, it was great to watch them and be a fan from afar but deep down knowing I would love to be there as well.

“Since my boy has arrived, (wife) Teagan was all for it. It was a pretty short conversation. She was like, ‘Go, this is a great opportunity for you’.

“I’m going over with no expectations of playing, but I’ll try to do my best to impact where I can.”

New Zealand’s 47-9 victory in Rome on Saturday followed a 54-16 success over Wales in Cardiff and a 104-14 triumph over the United States in Washington, DC.

After taking on the Irish this weekend, Ian Foster’s men will complete their tour against France in Paris seven days later.

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