Maro Itoje’s is one of the most destructive second row forwards in world rugby according to England defence coach John Mitchell, who cannot wait to see him compete against Alun Wyn Jones when England and Wales clash in Saturday’s Autumn Nation Cup
Last Updated: 24/11/20 4:23pm
Maro Itoje produced a man of the match performance against Ireland with a destructive display in both attack and defence.
England defence coach John Mitchell hailed his performance and believes his competitiveness and energy has a massive impact on the rest of the team.
“He is a very focused individual, he is very conscience around the detail – detail gives him that confidence and allows him to build up each day,” Mitchell told Sky Sports.
“He is one of the most destructive international locks in world rugby; he loves competition and him and James Ryan were really going at it. He is hugely competitive in a really, really good way.
“I love the way he builds up for a Test match. He will be doing the same this week knowing that Alun Wyn Jones will be wanting to have a crack – he will be highly motivated by that and he will walk towards that challenge just like he does all the other ones.
“The energy he brings on the pitch is just phenomenal – at times I think that if I was playing I would really be buoyed by the energy he brings – he displays a real winning attitude. You need those guys because it does not always go your way and you need to find ways to get the energy back. When you are defensively under the pump and somebody poaches the ball on the floor, well that gives teams enormous energy.”
Wales ended their six-game losing streak with an unconvincing victory over Georgia and, while England are favourites to beat them at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, Mitchell knows full well that a Wales side taking on England is a very different beast.
“Wales are always tough opponents – they just need to have a good performance against England and their whole year is made up,” said Mitchell.
“It reminds me of playing for Waikato against Auckland – regardless of where we were on the log, if we could get one over Auckland then we could walk around the community with our heads held high. That is not dissimilar to Wales – we expect that and we are looking forward to that.
“They are a small rugby nation with a big heart.”
Under new coach Wayne Pivac, Wales are in a transitional period and Mitchell understands the pressure Pivac is under.
“Regardless if you are building a side, the harsh realities of Test rugby is that you have to be winning as well as developing. You cannot expect your transition period to last forever – you have also got to win along the way.
“Every time they play, those stakes become higher for them and they are going to be a very difficult opponent on the weekend, but we cannot wait.”