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Big blow for All Blacks as Covid-19 hits camp before Ireland clash

Head coach Ian Foster is among the four people to have tested positive.

Centre Jack Goodhue is one of the four who have left camp.
Centre Jack Goodhue is one of the four who have left camp.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE ALL BLACKS have been dealt a big blow ahead of next Saturday’s first Test against Ireland in Auckland after confirming that four members of their camp, including head coach Ian Foster, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Foster, forwards coach John Plumtree, and Crusaders centres David Havili and Jack Goodhue have all tested positive.

Foster and Plumtree are now isolating at home, while Havili and Goodhue have also left the All Blacks’ camp.

Havili and Goodhue were both strongly in contention to start against Ireland in the first Test at Eden Park.

The All Blacks have called up another Crusaders centre, Braydon Ennor, to their squad.

These positive tests are undoubtedly a major blow for the Kiwis less than a week before the first Test against Ireland at Eden Park.

With Foster and Plumtree isolating, attack coach Brad Mooar, defence coach Scott McLeod, and scrum coach Greg Feek are set to lead the All Blacks’ preparations for the first clash with Ireland.

Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is due to join the All Blacks set-up as an independent selector following the completion of the three-Test series against Andy Farrell’s tourists.

There are still options in midfield for the All Blacks, with Quinn Tupaea and rugby league convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck competing for the number 12 shirt. Fullback Jordie Barrett can also play at inside centre.

Rieko Ioane is the incumbent at outside centre, with Ennor, Tupaea, and the uncapped Leicester Fainga’anuku also capable of excelling there.

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All Blacks boss Foster looked to play down the severity of this challenge for his squad.

“We’ve had a plan for this happening and it’s a great opportunity for the wider coaching group and the senior players, who will be highly motivated to step up,” said Foster.

“We have learned how to cope with the unexpected, like everyone has over the past couple of years. I will still be working alongside the coaches and team via Zoom and I have huge faith in the coaching group and the players.

“We have structures in place and everyone is working together.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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