England prop Joe Marler ruled out of Australia game after positive Covid-19 test

England prop Joe Marler has been ruled out of Saturday's Test against Australia after he tested positive for Covid-19.

Following on from the debacle that saw Red Rose captain Owen Farrell miss Saturday's 69-3 hammering of Tongadue to a false positive, England are more assured over Marler's absence.

Harlequins loosehead Marler, 31, came off the bench to replace Ellis Genge in England's one-sided win at Twickenham over the weekend, but the Wallabies will be expected to provide a sterner test.

A statement published by England Rugby on Tuesday read: "Joe Marler has tested positive for COVID and will be unavailable for selection against Australia. After returning a positive lateral flow test on Monday, he went into isolation.

"A subsequent PCR test taken confirmed the result. He will now isolate for 10 days, as per guidelines."

That news should see Leicester Tigers captain Genge retain the No. 1 jersey against Dave Rennie's side, with Newcastle Falcons' Trevor Davison in line for a possible call up to the bench.

England are expected to call up another loosehead prop ahead of the Australia game, and defence coach Anthony Seibold told reporters on Tuesday: “We are having those conversations now. We have just come off the training paddock.

“We have got a coaches’ meeting in a little while, post-lunch, so that’ll be part of that conversation. I haven’t spoken to Joe personally myself. I only found out the news prior to training the morning.

“A lot of the events happened overnight or late evening, so I haven’t spoken to Joe, but I know he is being well taken care of.”

The rest of the squad tested negative on lateral flow tests and trained as normal on Tuesday, with another batch of results from their lateral flow tests to come later on.

Australia looked intimidating after storming to second place in this year's Rugby Championship, though they've failed to flatter in their end-of-year Test outings thus far.

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The Wallabies looked nervy en route to a 32-23 victory over Japan in Oita last month before losing 15-13 to Scotland on Sunday.

That latter result in particular will encourage Eddie Jones' men as they seek their second win of the autumn, having ran in 11 tries against a Tonga team that finished with only 14 men on the field.

Marler will have been in contention to start as one of the changes Jones might consider among his pack, but the option of installing the two-time Premiership champion has now been taken away.

The England coach faces an even greater conundrum in whether or not to reinstate skipper Farrell following his false brush with the coronavirus, and if so, in which position.

Marcus Smith came off the bench to join in England's plunder against Tonga despite carrying a minor leg injury, earning the Quins playmaker more support to start at fly-half against Australia.

The 22-year-old was set to play deputy to Farrell against the Sea Eagles before Northampton Saints full-back George Furbank was handed the No. 10 jersey as a late replacement.

It's possible Smith could start at fly-half with Farrell at inside centre, though that will mean one of Manu Tuilagi or Henry Slade is likely to be dropped despite impressing at Twickenham last time out.

Marler may no longer be in contention to face the Wallabies, but another of Harlequins' title-winning team from last season could step up from the bench in this week's squad announcement.

England have won each of their seven meetings with Australia since Jones took charge of the team in November 2015, most recently drubbing them 40-16 in the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

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