Autumn Nations Series: Eddie Jones waits for news on Owen Farrell’s availability to face Australia

England captain Farrell missed the 69-3 win over Tonga after testing positive for Covid-19, but head coach Jones is waiting on further public health guidance to see if he can be back for next Saturday’s match against Australia

Last Updated: 06/11/21 7:48pm

Eddie Jones is waiting for guidance on whether Owen Farrell will be able to play for England against Australia

Eddie Jones is waiting to find out whether Owen Farrell will be cleared to play in England’s second match of the Autumn Nations Series after missing the 69-3 win over Tonga due to testing positive for Covid-19.

England captain Farrell initially returned a positive test the Friday before the match and was ruled out for certain on the morning of the game, seeing George Furbank take his slot at fly-half and Courtney Lawes named as skipper in his absence.

Jones’ side now welcome old rivals Australia to Twickenham in their second game of the autumn and while Farrell will miss that if he has to self-isolate for 10 days per public health guidance, the England head coach will wait to see what advice the national team management are given.

England cruise past Tonga in Farrell’s absence

England shrugged off the Covid-enforced absence of captain Owen Farrell with a comfortable 69-3 victory over Tonga.

“It’s very clear and very simple – we’re just following the Covid regulations and protocols, and we’re just waiting for the guidance,” Jones said.

“It’s not my decision [whether he will be available for Australia], it’s public health so we just leave it to them. We’re just waiting, and we’ve done everything we’re supposed to do.

“We knew 100 per cent he wouldn’t be involved on Saturday morning, so made the change. In terms of when we know he’s going to get out, if you could give a ring to England public health, that would be most appreciated!”

Should Farrell have to sit out the Australia game, on this display it is unlikely Jones would have any qualms about putting either Furbank or Marcus Smith, who scored a try, set up two others and kicked five conversions in an impressive second-half cameo, in at No.10 against his homeland.

Courtney Lawes was handed the captaincy for England's win over Tonga

Courtney Lawes was handed the captaincy for England’s win over Tonga

Lawes put in a towering display as captain as well, notably preventing Tonga’s Telusa Veainu scoring a try from an interception when he looked certain to score, and the Northampton Saints forward was pleased with how England performed.

“It was amazing,” Lawes said. “Obviously I’m really proud and it’s a great honour to captain England, especially with a group of lads like this.

“Especially later on in the game, we knew we would be able to put our game-plan on the pitch and I thought we did that.

“We were a bit scrappy in places and there are certainly things to work on, but it’s a good thing and we’ll certainly look to improve leading into next week.”

England player ratings: Slade, Lawes and Smith all star

How England’s players rated as they opened their Autumn Nations Series campaign with a 69-3 win over Tonga.

Australia will undoubtedly provide a stiffer test when they come to Twickenham next week, but there were plenty of positives for Jones to take into that match as he starts to shape a squad capable of at least repeating England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup final appearance in two years’ time.

“We’re prepared to put in the effort when it probably wasn’t needed, which is good,” Jones said. “The second half was one of those tricky 40 minutes of rugby where you know the result is not in the mix and you’ve got to dig deep to find a bit more to play hard.

“I thought we played harder in the second half than we did in the first, which is a good sign for the team.

“We saw the mindset of being aggressive in attacking the opportunities and that’s what we’ve been working on. The mechanics of it will be a constant fine-tuning and the only time you need to see that at its best is when we play the seventh game of the World Cup.”

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