Cape Town - England forward Maro Itoje says he is relishing another
opportunity to test himself against the physicality of the South African
pack and has urged his fellow team-mates to help plug the gap of the
missing bulk of the Vunipola brothers.
According to the official England Rugby website, Eddie Jones’ side will be without injured forwards Mako and Billy
Vunipola for the November internationals with the Springboks the
first challenge for the side at Twickenham on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 17:00 SA time.
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
“Whenever South Africa play, whether it’s U20s or the senior side there is always that physical challenge.”
England lost their June series to South Africa 2-1, but despite
missing several key players this weekend including the Vunipola
brothers, 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 they 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
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 to have step up and make sure we carry with
bigger intensity to get the team on the front foot.”
England's 25-man squad:
Curry (Sale Sharks), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George
(Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) co-captain, Alec Hepburn
(Exeter Chiefs), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Zach
Mercer (Bath Rugby), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps),
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Harry Williams
(Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Ashton (Sale Sharks), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps),
Owen Farrell (Saracens) co-captain, George Ford (Leicester Tigers),
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade
(Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester
Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)