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Ireland wing tests positive for Covid days out from All Blacks clash

By Alex McLeod
(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland wing Mack Hansen has been ruled out of this weekend’s series-opening test against the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland after testing positive for Covid.

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On the same day that the virus wreaked havoc within the All Blacks camp, the touring Irish have had to contend with their own Covid issues, with Hansen forced into isolation from the rest of the playing squad.

The Irish Rugby Football Union [IRFU] issued a statement on Monday confirming the news, which – under New Zealand’s Covid regulations – will keep Hansen out of action for seven days.

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Hansen’s unavailability will be a blow for Ireland as the Australian-born 24-year-old has been a revelation for his adopted nation, which he qualifies for via his mother, since his test debut earlier this year.

After joining Connacht from the Brumbies ahead of the recently-completed United Rugby Championship, Hansen made his first appearance for Ireland in their comfortable 29-7 Six Nations win over Wales in February.

The former Australia U20 representative went on to start in four of his side’s five tests en route to their second-place finish at the tournament, and scored his first test try in a 30-24 defeat to France in Paris.

News of Hansen’s Covid-enforced unavailability comes on the same day that it was revealed that three All Blacks coaches, including head coach Ian Foster, and two players – David Havili and Jack Goodhue – had caught the virus.

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Four-test utility back Braydon Ennor has been called into the All Blacks squad in place of Havili and Goodhue, while ex-Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has been fast-tracked into the coaching set-up in the absence of Foster, John Plumtree and Scott McLeod.

Schmidt, who took charge of Ireland between 2013 and 2019 and guided the Emerald Isle to their first two wins over the All Blacks in 2016 and 2018, was set to replace Grant Fox as an All Blacks selector following their three-test series against Ireland.

However, a lack of readily available coaches within the All Blacks camp has seen the 2018 World Rugby Coach of the Year thrust into the New Zealand set-up at short notice.

Elsewhere, the IRFU revealed that Munster hooker Niall Scannell has been added to the national squad as additional cover after Rob Herring, and lock Iain Henderson, both picked up knocks during training on Saturday.

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Herring and Henderson underwent scans in Auckland on Monday, while Scannell will arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday morning, a day before Ireland open their New Zealand tour against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton.

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