Andy Farrell insists Ireland are pressing ahead with preparations for their Guinness Six Nations clash with France despite the threat posed to the Championship by the spread of coronavirus.

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Italy’s visit to Dublin on March 7 has been postponed on public health grounds and tournament chiefs are meeting on Monday to decide if other fixtures should fall to the escalating crisis over COVID-19.

England’s competition finale at the Stadio Olimpico on March 14 is the most in danger due to the virus’ escalation in northern Italy, but Farrell insists there is no certainty that Ireland’s pivotal clash with unbeaten France on the same day will go ahead.

“We don’t know. That’s the answer – we don’t know,” Farrell told reporters when asked about the trip to Paris.

“All we can do is prepare properly as if the game is going ahead. We’ve been in for a few days this week and that was the normal preparation that we were going to have anyway.

WATCH: The guys round up all the Guinness Six Nations and Premiership action. They discuss the shenanigans at the breakdown in England v Ireland among others. We also hear from Brad Shields on his injury and his quest to get back into Eddie’s England squad.

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“We’re going to have a rest this weekend, come back in on Sunday and train Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Then we’ll have a long weekend off. The key for us is to use the time appropriately and to our advantage.”

Rearranging the Italy game is highly problematic because of the lack of space in the rugby calendar and the Irish Rugby Football Union has yet to suggest an alternative date.

“There’s a few dates being bounced about but they’re just ideas at this point in time, so we haven’t got a clue really,” Farrell said.

“There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes, so as far as we’re concerned we’ll do what we’re told. We obviously want to play the game.

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“It’s not very disruptive for us. Obviously there’s a bit of uncertainty because of what’s going on in the world, but we’ve got to make sure that we do the right thing as a game.

“We definitely will do that but as far as distraction is concerned, we’re training, we’re rugby players coming to work, and so we try and get better.

“Obviously we’re disappointed not to play again after losing to England because that’s the first thing you want to do.

“We’re disappointed but it’s the right decision. There are more important things than a game of rugby.”

Press Association

Tags: Ireland, coronavirus

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