EletiofeFour Premiership players test positive for coronavirus with restart...

Four Premiership players test positive for coronavirus with restart looming

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  • Premiership season is due to restart on 14 August
  • Leicester’s Steve Borthwick wants to make fans proud

A general view of Twickenham Stoop.






The Premiership season is due to resume on 14 August when Harlequins play Sale at Twickenham Stoop.
Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Four Premiership players have tested positive for Covid-19, little more than a fortnight before the league is set to resume after five months in lockdown.

Tests have been conducted on players and staff at every club each Monday this month. Ten, including six players, initially tested positive, followed by nine, two of whom were staff, but last week the number fell to two, both players. The latest total is five from 846 tests.

Those who test positive are isolated, along with their close contacts, and are assessed in line with the guidelines agreed with Public Health England. It is the second successive week in which the number of positive tests is less than 1%, but it contrasts with Wales which is running the same procedure for players, and where all the results so far have been negative.

The Premiership restart will see several new faces at clubs on the playing and coaching fronts and Leicester’s new head coach, Steve Borthwick, has warned the club’s supporters that the road back to success will be long and hard after two seasons when the Tigers have flirted with relegation.

“I am not going to set goals,” said Borthwick, who spent the previous eight years working with Eddie Jones, first with Japan and then England. “What I want to do is make the club’s passionate supporters very proud of the team. There is a lot of work to be done but for me it is a privilege to be involved with a club like this.

“What I am asking of the players is their very best effort and I have seen that every day I have been here. We have new signings coming in and we need to create depth because that brings competition for places. I feel a real excitement about what we are trying to do. The circumstances are different because of the current restrictions, but you have to adapt and get on with it.”

Leicester have lost four experienced backs since they last played in March with Jonny May rejoining Gloucester while Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu and Kyle Eastmond left after refusing to sign contracts on reduced pay.

“Things change,” said Borthwick. “No one could have predicted these last few months. You adapt and you overcome. My priority is to ensure that everyone has a clear idea on how we play and appreciate that we are competing. I want a team that works exceptionally hard so that supporters can see effort and togetherness.

“People are realistic about where this squad is right now and the amount of work we have to do and the time it will take. I do not feel any pressure because the expectations I put on myself have always been high. I know we have a lot of ground to make up and we are getting on with it.”

Borthwick said he had gained from working under Jones, adding: “I learned an incredible amount from Eddie and will be eternally grateful for the opportunities he gave me and the effort he put in to help my development as a coach. He sets an example to everyone.”

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