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England squad evacuated from their Brighton hotel because of fire

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England’s preparations for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations took another unexpected twist on Tuesday night when Eddie Jones’ squad was evacuated from their hotel on the Brighton seafront after a fire broke out. Reports suggest that an electrical fire started in a manhole near to the Harbour Hotel on the King’s Road and this necessitated the England squad switching hotels. Online footage from passers-by showed flames shooting from the pavement. 

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The evacuation was the latest curveball thrown at England ahead of a championship they will begin with a February 5 match away to Scotland. Earlier on Tuesday evening, Joe Marler was forced out of the squad after he tested positive for Covid for the second time in eleven weeks

“Covid can eat s— but it does mean I can go back to my diet of chillis and onions x,” tweeted Marler, who must isolate for ten days but can end his isolation early under revised rules if he tests negative on day five and six after his positive result. 

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The Harlequins loosehead has packed down last Friday against Castres hooker Gaetan Barlot, one of the ten players withdrawn from the France squad after testing positive for the virus. 

Marler’s Tuesday setback followed the Monday confirmation that George Ford and Elliot Daly had been called up by England to replace skipper Owen Farrell, who last week suffered a fresh ankle injury while training at Saracens, while a knee injury that Jonny May had recently been carrying for Gloucester left him defeated. The latest update on Wednesday was that Farrell was out for the entire championship with May likely to also not be available for any game. 

Getting comfortable getting feeling uncomfortable is a phrase England boss Jones has wanted his squad to embrace and they have certainly done that so far in the early stages of their build-up to the start of the Six Nations. “Last night didn’t help but it’s brilliant – we kind of had that throughout the Autumn Nations so we are pretty prepared,” said Tom Curry when he appeared at the virtually held official Six Nations launch on Wednesday morning. 

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“The way we train, different combinations, we are pretty aware that stuff like this can happen now so we are ready and pretty excited to get going.  We are probably a bit more attacking and we are more at teams, which is big for us as that is when we are playing our best rugby. That is a big difference, especially from what we saw in the autumn nations.”

Curry was one of three vice-captains appointed under skipper Farrell for the Autumn Nations Series along with Courtney Lawes and Ellis Genge. With skipper Farrell not with the squad in Brighton as he seeks out specialist medical advice and with Lawes, who captained for the November matches versus Tonga and South Africa, nursing in camp the concussion he picked up with Northampton, it left Curry in the hot-seat for the Six Nations launch the morning after a fire-affected Tuesday night with England.    

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