Eddie Jones: Johnny Sexton 'has the bat phone to the referee'

Eddie Jones and Jonny Sexton
Sexton (left) has been a regular topic for Jones before England's meetings with Ireland

England coach Eddie Jones has stoked his rivalry with Ireland by claiming again that fly-half Johnny Sexton gets preferential treatment from referees.

"Sexton has the bat phone to the referee. When he talks, the referee listens," said Jones.

"That is because of his status in the game - you earn that, like [former New Zealand captain] Richie McCaw did."

England coach Jones said in November that his own number 10 Owen Farrell did not get the same protection as Sexton.

The Australian was also criticised for comments he made before the teams' 2016 Six Nations meeting in which he claimed that Sexton's "mother and father would be worried" about injuries he picked up in a brutal match against France a fortnight before.

England play Ireland in the teams' opening game of this year's Six Nations match in Dublin on 2 February.

Saracens' Farrell, a key part of England's team, is a slight injury concern for the match as he is scheduled to have minor surgery on a thumb complaint. His club have said they expect him back in action in "seven to 10 days".

Jones admits spying on opposition training in the past

Eddie Jones
Jones leading the Wallabies at the World Cup in 2003

Jones also admitted that he used to spy on opposition training when he was in charge of Australia, raising the possibility that Sir Clive Woodward's England World Cup winners were targets for his espionage.

Jones led his native Australia between 2001 and 2005, a stint that included narrowly losing the 2003 Rugby World Cup final to England.

"Fifteen years ago we used to send people out in costumes to watch training," Jones said.

"I can remember sending a coach who is now in a very senior position now in a costume to go and watch one team play and he got chased out of there. He was dressed up like a swagman, wearing one of those hats with corks.

"I can say with a hand on my heart we don't do it any more. We just don't see the value of it because we can glean most of the stuff from the games."

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa admitted on Wednesday that he had sent members of staff to watch every one of the Championship leaders' league opponents this season. The Football Association and English Football League are investigating his conduct.

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