McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris have both taken voluntary pay cuts after their team became the first in Formula One to put some staff on furlough.

The 2020 F1 season is yet to begin and all grands prix have either been cancelled or postponed up until mid-June due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The financial impact on such a suspension has led to British-based team McLaren furloughing some employees for the next three months under a scheme offered by the government in the United Kingdom.

A statement from McLaren, published on F1's website, read: "The McLaren Group is temporarily furloughing a number of employees as part of wider cost-cutting measures due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business.

"These measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers."

It was also confirmed that Sainz and Norris had volunteered to have their salaries reduced.

Sainz wrote on Twitter: "Due to the impact of COVID19, the McLaren Group has adopted difficult temporary measures regarding its staff to hopefully protect jobs in the long term.

"I fully understand these tough decisions and I have obviously decided to take a pay cut. We are all in this together."

It was a McLaren crew member who tested positive for coronavirus on the eve of last month's Australian Grand Prix, the season-opening race.

The team pulled out as a result, with the grand prix called off altogether shortly after.

Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson is the fight every UFC fan wants to see but frustratingly the MMA gods have conspired to once again keep us waiting on a dream bout.

The bad-luck story for this match-up has led to several people labelling it 'cursed', and with the latest attempt to get these two together in the Octagon cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic even those most sceptical of such superstitions may be wondering if it is.

Lightweight champion Khabib was slated to put his belt on the line against Ferguson at UFC 249 in Brooklyn on April 18, only to pull out due to travel restrictions caused by the spread of COVID-19.

Below we have taken a look at each of the times this fight was cancelled.


OCTOBER 2015: RIB INJURY RULES OUT KHABIB

This story dates back almost five years. In August 2015, UFC booked two of its brightest lightweights to get it on at the finale of the 22nd season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' in December. However, two months before the fight, Khabib – who had worked his way back from two serious knee injuries – suffered a broken rib that left him pondering if he would fight again.


APRIL 2016: FERGUSON SUFFERS LUNG ISSUE

So, take two then. At the start of the following year, Khabib-Ferguson was made part of the UFC on Fox card set for April 16. Just 11 days before that date, it was Ferguson's turn to be struck by injury woe as a lung issue prevented him from getting in the Octagon.


MARCH 2017: KHABIB HOSPITALISED BEFORE UFC 209

Making a third bout between the two was hit by a little snag, namely Ferguson holding out for more money. Eventually, it was made the co-main event of UFC 209 for the interim lightweight title with full champion Conor McGregor on an MMA hiatus to prepare for his boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Just a day prior to the showdown, Khabib was hospitalised due to "weight-management issues". A fuming Dana White accused Khabib's team of going "rogue".


APRIL 2018: SURELY NOT AGAIN?!

For the fourth time, UFC announced Khabib versus Ferguson for the main event of UFC 223. This time surely the fight was going to happen?! Alas, no. Ferguson required surgery on his lateral collateral ligament and once again MMA fans were starved of the fight.


APRIL 2020: CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS GROUND KHABIB

This long tale of woe endured its latest chapter of bad luck thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite protestations the fight would go on, even in the likely absence of fans, it was becoming increasingly unlikely. It came as little surprise when Khabib pulled out, stating he was unable to travel. Ferguson may still have an opponent with Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje having all been suggested as stand-ins … but for now the fight we all want to see remains frustratingly on the backburner.

Former Chicago White Sox pitcher and long-time broadcaster Ed Farmer died at the age of 70 on Wednesday after battling kidney disease.

Farmer was born in Evergreen Park, Illinois and attended Chicago State University before beginning his MLB career with the Cleveland Indians in 1971.

He joined the White Sox in June 1979 after being acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers and went on to post 54 of his 75 career saves with his hometown team before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent following the 1981 season.

Farmer's only All-Star season came in 1980 with Chicago, when he had a career-best 30 saves. His last MLB campaign was in 1983.

Farmer became a radio broadcaster with the White Sox in 1992 and served as the play-by-play commentator for the past 14 seasons.

"Ed Farmer was the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox for three decades, and he called no-hitters, perfect games and of course, a World Series championship," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

"His experience as a major league All-Star pitcher, his wry sense of clubhouse humour, his love of baseball and his passion for the White Sox combined to make White Sox radio broadcasts the sound of summer for millions of fans.

"Ed grew up a Sox fan on the south side of Chicago and his allegiance showed every single night on the radio as he welcomed his 'friends' to the broadcast. I am truly devastated by the loss of my friend."

Belgium's Pro League has recommended calling an end to its 2019-20 season and accepting current positions as the final standings.

In what would be an unprecedented move in response to the coronavirus pandemic, current leaders Club Brugge stand to be named as champions.

A working group will now assess the potential sporting and financial implications of the board of directors' decision, with a general assembly to convene on April 15 and discuss the findings.

The Belgian top-flight has one regular-season round of fixtures remaining, which would normally precede a play-off competition to determine the winners and qualifiers for the Champions League and Europa League.

Brugge, who finished second in 2018-19, are 15 points clear and look set to benefit from Thursday's directive, while Waasland-Beveren – two points from safety at the foot of the table – are facing relegation.

A league statement read: "The Pro League board of directors met today by conference call. The most important item on the agenda was obviously the issue of continued competition in the context of the coronavirus crisis.

"The current situation, particularly precarious, in which our country finds itself has as a consequence that sport is not and cannot be considered as the first concern, however entertaining and relaxing it may be.

"In this context, it is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to make a recommendation, taking into account public health, the interests of all stakeholders and the wishes of the majority of clubs. to not resume competition."

It remains to be seen whether the final of the Belgian Cup, originally due to take place on March 22 between Brugge and Antwerp, will still go ahead later in the year.

Football and sport in general has been put on hold in the vast majority of countries around the world as governments attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Euro 2020 has been pushed back to 2021, as have the Olympics, with UEFA also postponing this year's Champions League and Europa League indefinitely. 

The top leagues in Europe are still on hiatus, with finishing the season still a priority, although UEFA chairman Aleksander Ceferin has acknowledged it may prove impossible to do so.

Atletico Madrid players will accept a 70 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus crisis to protect the salaries of 430 non-playing staff, the LaLiga club have confirmed.

Atleti's measures mirror those taken by Barcelona and Real Madrid in response to the State of Emergency declared in Spain, where the death toll attributed to COVID-19 has surpassed 10,000.

A club statement on Thursday confirmed they would present a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) to enshrine a 70 per cent decrease in wages for players with Atletico Madrid B and Atletico Madrid Women, along with Diego Simeone's squad.

Additionally, all first-team players have signed an internal agreement that maps out two different scenarios depending on how the 2019-20 season concludes.

The statement read: "The filing will mean a 70 per cent reduction in the salaries of technicians and players of the men's first team, the women's first team and Atletico de Madrid B, while the declaration of the State of Emergency lasts.

"From the outset, the club's objective in studying possible measures to deal with this delicate situation has been to minimise its effect on the salaries of its employees as much as possible. 

"The agreement reached with the first team will also allow [for] supplementing the salary of 430 employees affected by the ERTE, a complement from which only players and coaches from professional teams are excluded. 

"To make this possible, the first squad will contribute half the necessary amount and the members of the club's management committee, made up of the chief executive and the directors of the different areas, the other half. "

Atletico lie sixth in the standings of a suspended LaLiga, while their final outing before football's continent-wide shutdown was a thrilling 3-2 extra-time victory over Liverpool at Anfield – sealing a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 4-2 aggregate triumph.

Real Madrid great Goyo Benito has died at the age of 73, the club confirmed on Thursday.

Benito came through the youth ranks at Madrid and went on to make 420 first-team appearances across 13 seasons.

The moustachioed defender was a six-time LaLiga champion and won the Copa del Rey on five occasions, with Los Blancos claiming doubles in 1974-75 and 1979-80.

Benito made his debut in 1969 and was part of the generation that succeeded Madrid's so-called 'Yeye' team that dominated Spanish football during that decade.

He suffered disappointment in the 1981 European Cup final against Liverpool and retired after lifting the Copa del Rey the following season.

Benito made 22 appearances for Spain and is one of only two Madrid players, alongside Pirri, to receive the club's Laureate distinction.

A club statement read: "Real Madrid, its president and board of directors express their deep regret at the passing of Goyo Benito, one of the great legends of our club's history.

"Real Madrid wishes to share its condolences and sends its affection to his wife, Paula, and children, Patricia and Ruben, all of his family and loved ones. These condolences are also offered on behalf of madridistas from all over the world.

"Real Madrid supported Benito right throughout his battle against the illness that he suffered from for over more than a decade.

"The Real Madrid family is today in mourning as we remember one of the great defenders in our club's history."

Carlos Tevez believes professional footballers at the highest level should offer to cut their wages amid the coronavirus crisis.

Like the rest of the world's elite players, Boca Juniors star Tevez is on hiatus after the domestic season in Argentina was suspended.

Barcelona's squad have all taken a 70 per cent wage cut to ensure the club can continue to operate during Spain's state of emergency, while players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski have all made donations to support charities and organisations battling the spread of COVID-19.

Premier League club Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have put non-playing staff on furlough to take advantage of a scheme recently introduced by the British government, while discussions between the top flight, the English Football League (EFL), League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are continuing over whether players in England should take wage cuts.

Former Manchester United and Manchester City forward Tevez has now weighed in, insisting players should be able to support themselves without being paid in full.

"A footballer can live six months or a year without receiving [wages]," Tevez said on America TV in Argentina.

"We are not in the same despair as those who live with kids every day, who have to leave their house at six in the morning and return at seven in the evening to feed the family. 

"We are not an example in this case; yes in other things. We have to be there and help. It is easy for me to speak from home, knowing that I have food for my children. 

"But desperate people, who cannot move and cannot leave the house. That is worrying."

Tevez also insisted clubs must do everything to support their communities.

"The clubs have to get involved. Instead of going to train in the morning, they [should] demand that you do things for the people," he said. 

"For example, go to the dining rooms in La Boca. I would be delighted to go. I know that my family is fine.

"That's where the great example begins. You can make videos, like me at home from my living room, but the great example would be that we all go out and help."

Tevez hopes one positive impact of the pandemic will be people becoming more supportive of each other, regardless of wealth.

"There are no shirts here. Social class does not matter. We all want to help," he added.

"Hopefully the world will be more supportive. We are realising that we are all the same. Hopefully we grow as a society and tomorrow this has changed the world for good. This virus teaches us that. Hopefully it is for the good and that we are all one and come out of this together."

Jurgen Klopp has made never giving up part of Liverpool's identity, according to captain Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool were on course to cruise to a first league title in 30 years this season, but the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the campaign into flux.

The Reds hold a 25-point advantage over defending Premier League champions Manchester City and Henderson considers their ability to battle until the end key to their stunning haul of 82 points from 29 games.

England international Henderson believes the improved resilience is down to a long-term mentality shift Klopp began attempting to implement after taking over in 2015.

"That sort of mentality and that resilience within us, especially this season, has been massive in terms of the games we've won," Henderson said on Sky Sports News. "I feel as though that's something the manager really started to instil in the squad when he first came.

"When he first came, I can remember him talking about never ever stopping and finishing or changing your mentality within a game.

"You always finish, you always keep going no matter what happens within a game, no matter what score it is, right until the very end, because you never know what can happen in football and you need to keep the same mentality and keep going right until the end. I can always remember that right from the very beginning."

Henderson highlighted a 4-3 second-leg victory over Borussia Dortmund at Anfield in the 2015-16 Europa League quarter-finals, in which Liverpool came back from 3-1 down, as an example of that attitude.

He continued: "If I look back through the time he's been here and you look at games like Dortmund in the Europa League, coming back like we did in that game, And little games in the Premier League people might not really pick up on, but when you go back I think it has been a progression over a few years and not just one season.

"I think this season has been massive in terms of the consistency of it, but I really feel as though that was a work in progress and it's now part of our identity really, that no matter what happens within the game we never stop and we never change the mentality until the game's finished."

Kevin De Bruyne believes Premier League teams would be hit by an instant injury crisis if the 2019-20 campaign is swiftly resumed and feels cancelling the season might be a better option.

Football in England is suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Football Association committed to extending the season indefinitely beyond its normal cut-off point of June 1.

De Bruyne has been in sparkling form for Pep Guardiola's men this term, racking up eight goals and 16 assists in the Premier League before inspiring a 2-1 first-leg win for City in their now on-hold Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And yet, the Belgium midfielder would accept those impressive returns being torn from the record books due to bigger picture concerns.

"I have no idea when we will be playing again. We haven't played for six weeks," De Bruyne, who missed City's last two games before the shutdown due to a shoulder injury sustained during the EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa, told HLN,

"Normally you'd need a preparation of three to four weeks. If we restart immediately then everybody will be injured after a few games.

"I know that there's lots of money involved. But I think that waiting so long to make a decision can cause issues next season.

"There won’t be a long summer break and you can just postpone everything.

"I would feel sad if the season is stopped after such a good year, but if it avoids issues for next season, it must be done."

City were due to host Liverpool this weekend, with Jurgen Klopp's side on the cusp of taking the Premier League title out of the possession of Guardiola's team. They boast a 25-point lead after 29 matches, with City having played a game less.

De Bruyne's impressive returns this season come after an injury-plagued 2018-19 where, having returned to action after helping Belgium to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, he suffered two separate instances lateral knee ligament damage.

Eddie Jones has the best win ratio of any England coach, but the biggest prize eluded him last year.

England have won 42 of their 54 games (78 per cent) since Jones' appointment was confirmed in 2015.

On Thursday, the Rugby Football Union announced the 60-year-old had agreed a new deal that will run until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

We take a look at the highs and lows of Jones' time in charge.

 

HIGH - A 2016 GRAND SLAM

Jones' first tournament was a resounding success as England beat Scotland, crushed Italy and then edged past Ireland and Wales in the Six Nations.

A 31-21 triumph over France delivered the Six Nations and a first Grand Slam in 13 years.

"I'm very proud of the boys," Jones told BBC Sport. "It's a great achievement by the team. I always had confidence in them."

HIGH - A 3-0 SERIES WHITEWASH DOWN UNDER

Later that year England headed to Jones' homeland for a three-Test series, and the tremendous start continued for the former Wallabies coach.

Having scored 39 points in Brisbane, a record for England in Australia, a 23-7 victory in Melbourne earned Jones' side their first series success on Wallabies turf.

After a 44-40 win completed a series sweep, England captain Dylan Hartley said: "We can all be proud of what we have achieved."

 

LOW - IRISH END WINNING RUN

England arrived in Dublin in March 2017 seeking both a second successive Grand Slam and a world-record 19th straight victory.

Yet Ireland had other ideas, overwhelming the visitors and claiming a 13-9 win as Jones tasted defeat for the first time.

"I take full responsibility, I didn't prepare the team well and we will respond in the future," Jones said.

 

LOW - FIVE-GAME LOSING STREAK

Fast forward 15 months and things felt very, very different for Jones' side as they lost a fifth game in a row, going down 23-12 to South Africa.

England had lost the last three games of that year's Six Nations - beaten by Scotland, France and Ireland - before back-to-back defeats at the start of the three-Test series in South Africa.

"We're a bit like an old car at the moment - you fix one bit and another part breaks down," said Jones, who saw his team round out the tour with a 25-10 victory in Cape Town.

HIGH - OUSTING THE ALL BLACKS

No one had beaten New Zealand at a World Cup in a dozen years, yet the back-to-back champions were stunned 19-7 in the 2019 semi-finals.

It was perhaps the finest performance of the Jones era, Manu Tuilagi's early try setting England on their way to a famous victory over the All Blacks.

"They've been a great team so we had to dig really deep to beat them," said Jones, whose side advanced to a final against South Africa...

 

LOW - FALLING FLAT IN THE FINAL

A week later England were unable to conjure up another spectacular performance in Japan as South Africa's 32-12 victory meant they took home the Webb Ellis Cup.

Jones' side were simply not at the races, a raft of handling errors blighting their performance.

"That's the great thing about rugby; one day you're the best team in the world and the next a team knocks you off," Jones said.

Norwich City's squad, head coach Daniel Farke and executive committee will donate a percentage of their salaries to support people during the coronavirus crisis.

In total, over £200,000 will be donated, with Norwich also confirming the club's owners and directors have pledged to contribute.

Earlier this week, Norwich were one of a number of Premier League clubs to place non-playing staff on furlough, taking advantage of the UK government scheme in response to COVID-19 that will pay employees 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 per month.

The fund will be used to purchase and distribute food and essential toiletry packages for those in need in the Norfolk community, while some Norwich-based charities are also set to benefit.

Grant Hanley, Norwich's club captain, told the side's official website: "There are clearly a lot of complexities and discussions happening at this time, but right now this absolutely is the best thing we can do for our community.

"As a group of players, we wanted to stand up and do our bit. The lads have heard at first-hand stories and challenges that some of our supporters are currently facing. We need to make sure were reaching out and helping those who have been hit hard and are struggling at this time.

"It's clear the club are doing everything possible to help both staff, fans and the wider community at this challenging time, and we want to make sure we're also contributing."

The Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), along with representatives from the English Football League (EFL) and League Managers Association (LMA), are currently in discussions over player wages.

Professional football in England has been suspended until at least April 30, with the season able to be completed beyond June 1 if necessary.

Somebody's '0' would have to go in a fight where there would be little love lost between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.

The battle for middleweight supremacy would be on the line in a bout where egos would be as bruised as bodies and an unbeaten MMA record would be consigned to the scrapheap.

Adesanya, the division's champion, has spoken of chasing big-money fights with Jon Jones and even Conor McGregor.

But for now the Nigeria-born New Zealander has a score to settle with Costa and fight fans would undoubtedly relish the prospect of these two mixing it in the Octagon.

In the fifth edition of our UFC dream fights we would love to see series, we have profiled Adesanya and Costa in closer detail.


WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE THIS FIGHT?

Because these guys have been on a collision course for some time and only a biceps injury sustained by Costa has made us wait this long.

Jibes have already been thrown back and forth, with Costa accusing Adesanya of ducking the challenge of light-heavyweight king Jones.

Adesanya's kick-boxing brilliance and Costa's pressure fighting would make this a fight of real intrigue.


GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Adesanya became the UFC's interim middleweight champion with a unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a classic a year ago. He then defeated the legendary Robert Whittaker in October with a stunning knockout to unify the division.

Each of Costa's first four fight wins in a UFC ring came via way of KO/TKO and he defeated Yoel Romero via unanimous decision in August.


WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

Adesanya: 19-0-0

Costa: 13-0-0


TALE OF THE TAPE

Adesanya:

Age: 30
Height: 6'4" (193cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Reach: 80"
Leg reach: 44"

Costa:

Age: 28
Height: 6'1" (185cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Reach: 72"
Leg reach: 39"


WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT A POTENTIAL FIGHT

"He's [Costa] a guy that I don't have to poke that much, I don't have to prod," Adesanya told ESPN. "I'm going to have fun with the press conference with this one. I'm going to have fun with the lead-up. I'm going to have fun with poking the bear."

"Against Adesanya, it's personal," Costa said in quotes reported by MMA Junkie this month. "It's not just to fight for the belt or the money or something like this. No, it's personal."


FIGHT STATS IN UFC

Adesanya:

- Adesanya has connected with 503 of his 1,032 attempted significant strikes, a success rate of 49 per cent.

- Of his successful strikes, 88 per cent have come from a standing position.

- On the defensive side, Adesanya has guarded against 87 per cent of takedown attempts.

- He has also seen off 66 per cent of strikes against him.

Costa:

- Costa has landed 307 of his 531 attempted significant strikes, giving him a success rate of 58 per cent.

- As with Adesanya, Costa tends to strike from a standing position - with 82 per cent coming via that method.

- He has successfully blocked 80 per cent of takedown attempts against him.

- Costa has also thwarted 54 per cent of strikes from his opponents.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney said boards across the world want to help Rugby Australia (RA) after it reported financial problems amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With rugby union leagues and competitions being shut down in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19, RA stood down 75 per cent of its working staff for three months earlier this week, shortly after it had revealed a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars in 2019.

USA Rugby has also filed for bankruptcy, claiming the suspensions caused by coronavirus, and the uncertainty about the future, had accelerated financial problems.

Sweeney conceded those announcements have caused concern among the world's unions, who are trying to collaborate on potential solutions to aid those struggling.

"The USA, quite frankly, were struggling somewhat before the crisis hit anyway – so they were perhaps the most vulnerable of anybody," Sweeney explained.

"I know World Rugby are in conversations with them in terms of how they can sustain the game in that country.

"Australia have been reported as being in a weaker position than a lot of others.

"There is an unprecedented amount of dialogue going on between all the unions and the relationship between the north and the south [hemispheres] has probably never been better, and we are just looking at various ways we can structure things that everybody can benefit and find solutions to these challenges ahead.

"It's in no one's interest for Australia to get into even more serious difficulties."

Eddie Jones' England are due to tour Japan in July for a two-Test series against the Brave Blossoms.

However, given the Olympics - staged in Tokyo - has already been put back a year to July 2021, it would appear unlikely England will embark on that tour when scheduled.

"We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby and a lot of the other unions as well around the world," Sweeney added.

"This is a conversation we are having around the July tours. It's a bit too early to say. We expect to be able to make a decision on that towards the end of April."

With Eddie Jones having extended his contract until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, England fans can look forward to the Australian providing more special moments.

Jones led England to the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016 - his first tournament at the helm - and they were champions again a year later, while only a defeat to South Africa stopped them winning last year's Rugby World Cup.

The 60-year-old made his side one of the best in the sport, and with his calculated wit and sharp tongue he arguably provides the best off-the-pitch entertainment in rugby.

We look back at some of Jones' most memorable quotes.

 

"Well, guys, can you just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off."

Jones' response when Wales coach Warren Gatland, who saw his team defeated by South Africa in the last four, suggested England could have already played their World Cup final when they beat New Zealand in the semis.

“I think the term 'world class' is used lightly. To be world class, you've got to be an automatic selection in a world XV. We don’t have any of those players. Now, we've got a lot of good players and a lot of players who want to get better. So to say we don't have world class players is not a criticism of the players and not a criticism of the team. It's just the reality of it."

Having said England had no "world-class players" upon his appointment in 2015, Jones was adamant it remained the case after racking up 13 straight Test wins to start his tenure.

"France can expect absolute brutality from England, we are going to go out there to make sure they understand what Test rugby is. It is about being brutal, it is about being physical."

Jones laid down the gauntlet ahead of England's 2020 Six Nations opener against France and it backfired, as Les Bleus clinched a 24-17 victory in Paris.

"No one thinks we can win. New Zealand talk about walking towards pressure - well, this week the pressure is going to be chasing them down the street. The busiest bloke in Tokyo this week will be Gilbert Enoka, their mental skills coach. They have to deal with all this pressure of winning the World Cup three times. It is potentially the last game for their greatest coach and their greatest captain and they will be thinking about those things. Those thoughts go through your head. It is always harder to defend a World Cup, and they will be thinking about that, and therefore there is pressure."

After suggesting New Zealand had sent a spy to watch England train ahead of their World Cup semi-final clash, Jones turned up the heat on the All Blacks.

"I just went through immigration and I got shunted through the area where everything got checked. That's what I'm expecting, mate. Everything that's done around the game is going to be coordinated. All coordinated to help Australia win. We've got to be good enough to control what we can control."

Jones claimed Australia were going to make England's life as difficult as possible after arriving for a three-Test tour in June 2016.

"We control our own destiny. We want to go out there and smack Italy. I have told the boys already that that is our aim - to go out there and give them a good hiding. If you look at the rankings we are a better side than Italy. We have to prove that on Sunday. We want to be absolutely brutal up front so there is no Italian player left standing at the end of the game."

Ahead of only his second game in charge, Jones made it clear he expected a significant increase in physicality from his players.

"We've played 23 Tests and we've only lost one Test to the scummy Irish. I'm still dirty about that game but we'll get that back, don't worry."

England were hoping to deny Ireland the Grand Slam in their final 2018 Six Nations game and Jones was out for revenge after they inflicted the first defeat of his tenure. He later apologised for the comment and Ireland triumphed 24-15 at Twickenham.

"If he was Sexton then we'd be able to complain about him. But because he's Owen Farrell he's allowed to be hit late. He's tough so he gets up and he plays. He's a tough rooster, a warrior. He takes the ball to the line, he puts his body on the line, he doesn't play in a dinner suit."

Jones suggested Owen Farrell's determination to play through pain led to him getting less protection from referees than Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton.

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