Maro Itoje: 'Do I think I have got the best prep in the world?'
Maro Itoje has insisted his preparation to play could still be better even though his recent progress was this week hailed by England boss Eddie Jones. The 27-year-old Londoner is set to win his 56th Test cap for his country when Jones’ side take on France in this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations final round denouement.
The second row has had his critics on occasion, but he has shown his immense value to England in recent weeks with his treasured nuisance in upsetting and getting at rival Welsh and Irish players. Now it is the turn of the French to be annoyed by a talent whose world-class ability continues to grow and improve.
It was Thursday evening, shortly after including Itoje in an England XV showing five changes from the round four loss to Ireland, that Jones dwelt on the recent contribution of the forward. “You look at the growth of him as a player – I can’t speak more highly of what he has done, not only as a player but also his leadership qualities within the team.
“He has become a really significant guy in our team, not that he wasn’t before, but the way he talks, the way he commands respect from the other players he continues to grow and continues to impress.”
Less than 24 hours later, Itoje was on media duties post the England captain’s run at Stade de France and he was asked about his levels of preparation and how close they are to perfection now that he is such a seasoned Test match operator.
“It is a massive part of being a professional rugby player, it’s a massive part of continuing to try and evolve and grow and get better in different ways to push the standard a little bit. In terms of perfecting it, you are always looking at ways, minor things that you can do differently.
“You hear little bits of what different people do. You try a bit, a bit of trial and error. So do I think I have got the best in the world? Not yet, but I still think my prep can be better and I hope to continue to learn along the way for it to be better.”
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