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England boss Jones stokes up Sexton's injury battle

BY Duncan Bech

England boss Eddie Jones has heightened tensions with Ireland by claiming Jonathan Sexton's parents will be worried about his long-term health.

Jones claimed Ireland fly-half Sexton's parents must harbour concerns about his well-being after his latest fitness scare in Ireland's 10-9 defeat to France, branded a "whiplash injury" by Joe Schmidt.

The 30-year-old will start Ireland's RBS Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham tomorrow, with Jones further intensifying strong scrutiny over his head injury saga, which saw him stood down for 12 weeks in 2014 after four concussions inside 12 months.

"Sexton is an interesting one, they've talked about him having whiplash injury which is not a great thing to talk about," said Jones, after confirming Maro Itoje will replace the injured Joe Launchbury to make his full debut for England. "I'm sure his mother and father would be worried about that."

The wily Australian bristled however when quizzed on whether England could legitimately target opposition fly-halves in Test rugby.

"We target players all the time. That's part of rugby is it not? Is there some sort of special law there?" said Jones. "I'm not saying Sexton is a weak defender. Maybe France did. We're going to be targeting players.

"We want to win and you win by attacking weak points and to say that's unfair is ridiculous."

In response, Ireland boss Schmidt played down the issue.

"I think we're probably less affected by those extraneous things than you people are," he said.

"Because if we're distracted by that, then that's something that we're wasting energy and time on."

Belfast Telegraph


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