Maro Itoje of England goes into tackle with Siya Kolisi (left) and Jean Luc du Preez of South Africa (right) during the test match at Newlands Stadium in June 2018. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

LONDON – England forward Oghenemaro (Maro) Itoje says he is relishing another opportunity to test himself against the physicality of the South African pack at Twickenham on Saturday.

Itoje has urged his teammates to help plug the gap of the missing bulk of the Vunipola brothers.

Eddie Jones’ side will be without injured forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola for the November Internationals with the Springboks providing the first challenge.

Itoje is likely to be named at blindside flanker for the Twickenham Test.

And on the extra burden of making up for the missing physicality of the Vunipolas, he added: “I always try and carry to the best of my ability. 

"With Billy and Mako not playing it’s going to mean the other forwards from one-to-eight have to step up and make sure we carry with bigger intensity to get the team on the front foot.”

Pieter Steph du Toit of South Africa is tackled by Maro Itoje and Joe Marler of England. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Pieter Steph du Toit of South Africa is tackled by Maro Itoje and Joe Marler of England. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

And having played three Tests against them in the summer, Itoje is looking forward to the weekend’s battle.

“I’m incredibly excited, to be honest,” he said. “These are the types of challenges you want to face, especially after the summer where we probably didn’t put our best foot forward with the first two Tests, so this is another good opportunity to get better and show what we’re truly about.

“I’ve played with quite a few South Africans over the years so I guess it gives you an insight into the way they think about rugby and their mentality. Whenever South Africa play, whether it’s Under-20s or the senior side there is always that physical challenge.”

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England lost their summer series to South Africa 2-1, but despite missing several key players this weekend also including Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, Itoje is in no doubt the forward pack have a clear idea of how they want to set out on Saturday and the outcome they desire.

“The results matter to us, we want to win,” he said. “The players are desperate to win.

“We are very clear on the type of rugby we want to play. We want to be confrontational, playing on the front foot and having a dominant set piece.” 

African News Agency (ANA)


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