Owen Farrell: England captain tests positive for Covid-19 before Tonga Test

Owen Farrell kicks the ball
Owen Farrell is due to start at fly-half for England on Saturday
Autumn Nations Series: England v Tonga
Venue: Twickenham, London Date: Saturday, 6 November Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England captain Owen Farrell has tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of Saturday's Autumn Nations Series opener against Tonga.

Farrell will miss training on Friday but the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said he may still be able to play the match.

The 30-year-old is isolating and will take further tests on Friday.

On Thursday a member of England support staff tested positive but the RFU says "England are continuing preparations" for Saturday's match at Twickenham.

A statement added that all other players and staff had received negative results after a further round of testing on Thursday.

Farrell is due to start at fly-half, with Marcus Smith on the bench after he missed several training sessions this week with a minor leg injury.

Smith may now be called in to start and, with George Ford left out of the autumn squad, replacement George Furbank could offer back-up at 10.

Forwards coach Richard Cockerill refused to confirm who would fill in should Farrell's next test come back positive too, but confirmed that Smith had trained fully on Friday morning.

"We're just waiting to see what happens next," Cockerill said. "If Owen is available, he will play. It's as simple as that.

"We have a resilient group and this is a good test to make sure that, whatever happens, we perform and do exactly what we want to do."

When asked whether Ford would be called in as emergency cover, Cockerill replied: "[Head coach] Eddie [Jones] will make those decisions - he's the guy who makes those calls. As and when, and if appropriate, Eddie will do what he sees fit."

Cockerill said that Furbank was "a very good option if required", adding he "has trained in that position for the last couple of weeks".

"He's a very talented player who has great instincts and I think he'll take it in his stride," Cockerill said.

England: Steward; Radwan, Slade, Tuilagi, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; Genge, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Underhill, Curry.

Replacements: Blamire, Marler, Stuart, Ewels, Dombrandt, Mitchell, Smith, Furbank.

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