Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad have not returned any positive tests for Covid-19 following the February 14 defeat to France. The France squad has been hit hard by Covid in recent days, with 10 players now ruled out ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations meeting with Scotland.
France team manager Raphael Ibanez has said the squad’s Covid cases may have started in Ireland.
However Ireland, who lost 15-13 to Les Bleus, have not recorded a single positive test.
“It is not uniquely a French issue,” Ibanez said.
“The head coach of England (Eddie Jones) was affected by it, and others too. Nobody can know how this happened.
“Was it in Ireland? Why not through the media who were allowed in to watch training? It only takes one infected person for the contamination to take hold in others.
“What has happened only motivates us more to put on a great performance against Scotland.”
Speaking to the media today, Ireland attack coach Mike Catt said the squad are still Covid-free ahead of Saturday’s trip to play Italy.
“We all got tested three times last week. We’ve had a test this morning,” Catt said.
“We are Covid-free as it currently stands. So I think we’re very happy with the way things have been going, the players have been exceptional in sticking to their protocols and our protocols. So that’s all we currently can do. And at the moment, we are doing pretty well on that.”
Ireland’s attack has come in for criticism following an underwhelming start to their Six Nations campaign. Ireland have lost to both Wales and France while scoring a total of just two tries, the lowest return in the tournament so far.
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However Catt said he is not feeling under pressure, insisting the coaching team are confident they have the team on the right path.
“It depends on what you classify as pressure,” he said.
“If you believe that you are going in the right direction, and you believe (in the) players, and things take time to get ready.
“And I know we don’t have a lot of time at international level and the expectation is no higher than from Andy and the rest of the coaches in terms of how we want to play the game.
“Winning at this level is ultimately the be-all and end-all. So from a pressure point of view, I see it as us continuing what we need to do to make the players better, to make them understand how we want the game to be played.
“And ultimately we will see the rewards on the back of it.”
Ireland have made no changes to their 36-man squad ahead of the game against Italy, with Johnny Sexton, James Ryan and Conor Murray all included after missing the France defeat through injury.
And head coach Farrell is expected to name a familiar looking team as Ireland look to get back to winning ways.
“Every team wants to score four or five tries every game, to go out and express themselves,” added Catt.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we believe the way we are going is the right way.
“We probably could have scored two or three more tries against Wales with 14 men with the opportunities we created, and against as France as well. So it’s making sure at this level that the players understand that you must nail what you create.
“We’ve been disappointed in terms of the finishing and the players have got to get that right this weekend.
“Rugby is about the decisions you make, and we’re happy with what we’re creating.
“Then it’s about the final pass, the final decision, or putting ourselves in the right parts of the pitch to create pressure on the opposition. We didn’t do that well enough against France.”
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