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Joe Marler withdrawn from the England training camp in Brighton

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Seasoned loosehead Joe Marler has become the latest player to pull out of the England training camp in Brighton ahead of the February 5 start to the Guinness Six Nations away to Scotland. The RFU confirmed on Monday that George Ford and Elliot Daly had respectively replaced skipper Owen Farrell and Jonny May in the squad of 36 originally chosen last Tuesday to assemble at the start of this week. Nick Isiekwe was also called in as injury cover for Courtney Lawes, who is going through the return to play concussion protocol.


Now the RFU have confirmed the withdrawal of a third player, Harlequins prop Marler, following a round of Covid testing that took place on Tuesday. The 31-year-old played against French side Castres in the Heineken Champions Cup last Friday in London before heading to Brighton and it is the second time in eleven weeks that he has now tested positive for the virus while on England duty. 

It was originally revealed on November 8, two days after he had played as a replacement versus Tonga in the Autumn Nations Series opener, that Marler had fallen foul of the virus and it required him to leave England camp and isolate at home before he was allowed to rejoin the squad less than 48 hours before the November 20 match versus South Africa where he provided bench back up to the starting Bevan Rodd.  

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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp
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Rob Kearney and Alfie Barbeary – A Lion and a Wasp

An RFU statement on Tuesday evening read: “Joe Marler has tested positive for Covid and has withdrawn from the England squad for this week’s training camp in Brighton. After returning a positive lateral flow test on Tuesday morning, he immediately went into isolation. A subsequent PCR test taken that morning confirmed the result.

“All of the other England players and staff have undergone daily lateral flow testing – all of which returned negative results. The squad will train in Brighton until Friday as they prepare for their opening game against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday, February 5.”

No replacement has been called into the England squad on this occasion, unlike last time when the then uncapped Rodd was rushed down from Manchester and brought into the squad where he eventually started the match versus Australia after it emerged later that week that Ellis Genge has also tested positive for Covid.


Speaking on the eve of the November match against the Springboks, Marler explained how he managed to keep fit while in isolation. “About two years ago we had a big chicken pen built and unfortunately my dog died on the same night that a fox ravaged my four chickens that we had in there.

“So I had this pen bit that I could do some running in and I have got a gym in my garage, so I just kept on top of that and then tucked into a bottle of red a day just to keep things going and I managed to make it back which I am really grateful for, the opportunity to come back in and to try and contribute in some way.”



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