Wednesday 21 February 2018

Jones turns up heat on 'target' Sexton

Johnny Sexton at Ireland training in Carton House yesterday (SPORTSFILE)
Johnny Sexton at Ireland training in Carton House yesterday (SPORTSFILE)
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Eddie Jones has claimed that he is concerned about Johnny Sexton's welfare after suggesting that the Ireland out-half's parents will be "worried" about his well-being ahead of tomorrow's Six Nations clash with England.

The England coach has spent the build-up to the Twickenham showdown aiming barbs in Joe Schmidt's direction, but yesterday he escalated matters with his comments about Sexton's health.

The 30-year-old has been the subject of much scrutiny since being stood down from rugby as a result of suffering four concussions in 2014. He missed Ireland's World Cup quarter-final due to an adductor muscle injury and has come off in both of Ireland's games to date as a result of what Schmidt described as "whiplash".

Schmidt did not respond directly to the England coach's comments, although he did sound a cautionary note about the dangers of "scaremongering" with regard to injury, while a "very frustrated" Sexton accused Jones of "jumping on the bandwagon" with regard to his injuries.

Jones, however, was unrepentant about his remarks and said his team would target the out-half.

"I'd just be worried about his welfare," he said. "If you're saying a guy has got whiplash, then he's had a severe trauma. Maybe they used the wrong term, but if you've had severe trauma then you've got to worry about the welfare of the player.

"I'd be worried about him. We've got the best medical staff in England, we'll make the best decision. I'm sure Ireland have done the same.

"We target players all the time. That's part of rugby isn't it? I'm not saying Sexton is a weak defender, but we're going to target players because we want to win. He's hardly a shrinking violet."

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