England skipper Owen Farrell tests positive for Covid before 100th cap vs Tonga

England's autumn Test against Tonga on Saturday has been thrown into chaos after Red Rose captain Owen Farrell tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

Eddie Jones' side are due to host the Pacific Island nation in the opening fixture of their November Test series, with Farrell in line to lead from fly-half in what would be his 94th cap for his country.

But the 30-year-old's involvement is now in serious doubt after he was forced into isolation as a result of his coronavirus diagnosis.

It's understood Farrell could still feature against Tonga at Twickenham if he tests negative for the virus later on Friday.

All other players and staff are believed to have returned negative Covid-19 test results.

England fans now face a nervous wait on the results of the lateral flow and PCR test Farrell will undergo later on Friday.

The fixture is on course to go ahead as things stand, although supporters will wonder how the situation might change in the next 24 hours.

Forwards coach Richard Cockerill emphasised the point that England will react in accordance with Farrell's second batch of results, but the team is confident in their alternative options.

"Owen is in isolation. He's fine, we're just waiting to see what happens next," Cockerill told reporters on Friday.

"We are comfortable with the No.10 options we have. We have great options in both leadership and the 10 position. Everyone has trained fully this morning and is fit and well."

Jones retained Farrell as his chief playmaker despite overwhelming calls for Harlequins talisman Marcus Smith to be named in the No. 10 jersey.

The late change means Smith may in fact be promoted from the bench to the XV in what would be a roundabout way for many fans to see their preferred choice start at fly-half.

However, Jones raised caution at the prospect of the 22-year-old starting after a leg injury prevented him from training properly this week.

In the event Smith is still deemed unfit to start against Tonga, outside centre Henry Slade is another option for the No. 10 jersey, as is Northampton Saints full-back George Furbank.

When asked about the prospect of Furbank moving from the bench and into the No. 10 jersey, Cockerill replied: "He's played there before for his club. he's a very talented player, great instincts. I think he would take it in his stride."

Thursday's team announcement was briefly delayed after a member of England's staff tested positive for Covid-19 and was swiftly sent into isolation.

Depending on the results of Farrell's secondary tests and any potential recovery period, it may also mean he's a doubt for the autumn clash against Australia on November 13.

England Team

Freddie Steward; Adam Radwan, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (c), Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry

Tonga Team

Telusa Veainu; Walter Fifita, Mali Hingano, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Solomone Kata; Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takulua (c); Siegfried Fisiihoi, Paul Ngauamo, Ben Tameifuna, Leva Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Lopeti Timani, Mateaki Kafatolu, Sione Vailanu

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