Eddie Jones has a pop at Johnny Sexton for 'special relationship' with referees
England head coach Eddie Jones has said that Ireland fly-half and reigning World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton 'has the bat line to referees'.
Sexton has had a largely combative relationship with referees throughout his career but there have been a number of figures within the game that have recently inferred that the Leinster captain is shown favourtism by officials with Wales number eight Ross Moriarty the most outspoken player on the issue.
“Most players will have had something happen to them if they hit Johnny Sexton off the ball because obviously, he has a big pull in the game these days which is quite sad," Moriarty told BBC Wales Scum V programme after he was sin binned for a late hit on Sexton earlier this season.
Jones made similar inferences and said that Sexton enjoys the same sort of relationship that former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw once had with officials.
"Sexton has the bat phone to the referee. When he talks, the referee listens," Jones told the BBC.
"That is because of his status in the game - you earn that, like Richie McCaw did."
Sexton defended his relationship with referees at the Champions Cup launch earlier this season and said that he does not say stuff to officials just for the fun of it and that there's always some reasoning to his dialogue with whistleblowers.
"Look, I will only go to the ref if I think I’ve seen something that needs to be said. The week before, against the Dragons with (Quinton) Immelman, I had a great game. In hindsight, there were a few things I could have pushed harder. But, he had a great game and rewarded the team that was attacking.”
"Look, I’m not always right, but, I’m not going to say something for the fun of it, If I’ve seen something.
“There are referees, generally, the really good or experienced ones, that go: ‘yeah, sorry I missed that’ or ‘I’ll take that on board the next time,’ as opposed to totally dismissing it.”
“As a captain, you are always going to have flaws, aren’t you? As a player, you are always going to have flaws.
“(It’s) how you fix them up and keep them under control in the heat of battle or in those difficult situations, that’s the challenge as a player with leadership.
“I’m definitely not the complete leader. But, I have yet to meet someone that is the complete leader.”