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Jones on why 'inward looking' Itoje isn't a future England skipper

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has given a detailed insight into his thoughts on Maro Itoje, explaining why he doesn’t believe the forward is England captaincy material and why they have sent him for acting lessons to help develop his leadership and communication skills. 

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With a successful Autumn Nations Series out of the way, the England coach’s latest book, Leadership: Lessons from my life in rugby, is being serialised this week in The Telegraph.

The coverage has so far been compelling. There has been a section on why Jones made Marcus Smith write down answers to three questions as he felt the Harlequins youngster – last Saturday’s 80th-minute match-winner versus the Springboks – was wasting his talent. 

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Owen Farrell has also featured, Jones explaining why he feels his England captain is developing well as a leader, while another extract from what sounds like an intriguing book (written in conjunction with Donald McRae) dwells on the acting lessons that Itoje has been having yet he won’t be the England captain. 

“There were lots of calls for him to be named as captain of the British and Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021,” wrote Jones. “Alun Wyn Jones rightly got the job instead. That seemed sensible to me. I might be wrong, but I am not sure Maro is a future England captain. He is going to be one of the great players, but Maro is very inward looking.

“We have sent Maro to acting classes, which is having a beneficial effect. He speaks more influentially now, and I am hopeful he can develop more communication and leadership skills. Acting brings Maro out of himself. We don’t want to quench his inner drive, but we will have made huge progress if we can tap into it in different ways so that it transmits to his teammates.

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“The acting classes are a practical step to helping Maro and others share that internal fire and magic which makes them special. We are always looking to see if we can develop these traits and find the right mix of leaders.

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