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England statement: Owen Farrell a 'false positive'

By Kim Ekin
Owen Farrell /Getty

England’s Owen Farrell is set to re-enter the training camp after a positive coronavirus test has been found to have been a ‘false positive’.

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Farrell was forced to watch the opening instalment of the Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham from isolation at the squad’s base in Surrey.

Under Government guidelines, the England captain had to quarantine for 10 days but Eddie Jones insisted discussions with Public Health England were ongoing after wing Jonny May suggested the case is a false-positive.

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Farrell’s withdrawal was announced only 90 minutes before kick-off and Jones refused to rule him out when the Wallabies arrive next weekend.

Now England have confirmed that test was inaccurate. An RFU statement reads: “Owen Farrell will re-join the England squad at Pennyhill Park later today [Sunday 7 November].

“Farrell returned a positive test result from a COVID PCR test (taken on Thursday morning) and immediately went into self-isolation.

“The sample was reviewed by the lab and determined as a false positive test on Saturday morning and subsequently accepted by NHS Test and Trace today. This process is fully in line with the advice given by UK Health Security Agency.

“His subsequent PCRs have also been negative and therefore he has been released from self-isolation.

“The England squad are preparing for their next Test match against Australia [Saturday 13 November, 5.30pm KO].”

Marcus Smith’s artful 29-minute cameo strengthened the case for him starting against the resurgent Wallabies and if Farrell’s case is confirmed as a false-positive, then he will undoubtedly start at inside centre.

But Manu Tuilagi and Slade formed a balanced and effective centre partnership and it is hard to see on what grounds either should make way for Farrell. Jones is loathe to drop Farrell, who is lucky to have escaped the recent cull of old-guard as George Ford has been in superior form, but the fireworks evident against Tonga must surely challenge the Australian’s loyalty to his skipper.

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– additional reporting by PA

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