Maro Itoje defends Eddie Jones after England's latest flop
LONDON – Maro Itoje insists Eddie Jones does not deserve the blame for England's Six Nations flop because the players are responsible for the dismal campaign.
England's 32-18 loss to Ireland on Saturday condemned last year's champions to fifth place, equalling their worst Six Nations finish.
England head coach Jones is facing calls for his dismissal after familiar failings resurfaced at the Aviva Stadium.
Jones is adamant he remains the right man to lead England into the 2023 Word Cup and Itoje made it clear the boss has the support of his players.
"Eddie is a fantastic coach. He's one of the best coaches I've worked with, his work rate, his knowledge, his feeling with the players, the way he goes about his business - are genuinely second to none," Itoje said.
"As players, we need to be accountable for our behaviours. At the end of the day, Eddie can't play the game for us.
"The players need to be accountable and if you ask any player who has been under Eddie, I doubt anyone will say differently. He's a truly special coach.
"As players we need to grab hold of it and take ownership of our actions. We're disappointed because we know that as a team we're capable of so much more.
"It's just on us. I don't have any excuses here, we just weren't good enough. We're a team that can do so much more, but we didn't show that."
Beaten by Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the same Six Nations campaign for the first time since 1976, Itoje knows England must learn the lessons of their indisciplined displays.
"We've learned some lessons, some tough lessons. If I was to think of it holistically, if we're going to learn the lessons, it's best to do that now," Itoje said.
"You never want to go through periods like this, but if this makes us a better team in the long run and makes us a better team when we get back together, then we can move forwards.
"In terms of what I believe this team can do and what this team can achieve, nothing has changed. I truly believe that we've got something here.
"We're not displaying the best of the team at the moment, but I genuinely believe we've got one of the best coaches in the world.
"I do believe we are going somewhere but we have to recover and take our medicine from this Six Nations."