Itoje, George verdict on England's style-over-substance approach
Maro Itoje has insisted that England will do whatever it takes to win if a substance-over-style approach emerges as their blueprint for success at the Rugby World Cup.
It was a rousing riposte to a dismal warm-up campaign but having excelled in defence and shown the smarts to shape their gameplan according to events, a potent attack remains elusive.
Free-running Japan are the next assignment at the Stade de Nice on Sunday and while Itoje would prefer to see England run riot, he will take a victory any way it comes.
When asked if it matters how the team win, Itoje said: “For me, it’s by any means necessary.
“Obviously, we like to score tries and we would like to score loads of tries. But for me, it is by any means necessary as long as we get the win. Every game is different and is going to present different challenges. The task is to find ways to get on the positive side of the result.
“We know Japan move the ball. We know they are a very clever team that comes up with clever plays. However, the goal and task is to enforce an English style of rugby on this game.
“We want to show our best hand and we want to defend it well. We want to impose our physicality. We want to get into our set-piece game and when the opportunity is right our generals will fire us in attack. Yes. Japan move the ball, but it is about us imposing our will on them.
“Japan run the ball more than Argentina and are very aggressive with how they play and the spirit and the energy of how they play.”
Japan are not the force that lit up the 2019 World Cup with the pandemic hitting them harder than any other international side as they were prevented from playing a Test for two years.
If, as expected, England dispatch a team who have fallen to 14th in the global rankings they will have clear sight of a place in the quarter-finals with group games against Chile and Samoa left to play.
But Jamie George accepts that if they are to progress further in the competition, they must develop more strings to their bow. “If we are going to win a World Cup, which is what we are here to do, we know that we are going to have to kick on from where we were,” George said.
“The great English teams that I watched growing up and that I have been a part of based their teams around great defence and great set-piece.
“As long as we are doing that I think our attacking game flows off the back of that. We have got players who can do special things. You have just seen the start of us in this tournament. We hope you will see us score points in different ways.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 15, 2023
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