8 Nov 2018

Itoje encouraged to confront All Blacks

12:04 pm on 8 November 2018

Maro Itoje will be instructed to carry the fight to the All Blacks using a confrontational style that England accept risks incurring the referee's wrath.

Maro Itoje on the charge

Maro Itoje on the charge Photo: INPHO

Itoje gave away three penalties and was sin-binned in the opening quarter of Saturday's 12-11 victory over South Africa, but was a colossus when the tide turned in the second half.

The hero of the British and Irish Lions' victory in the second test against the All Blacks last year has been given license to continue pushing the boundaries when England attempt to upset Steve Hansen's world champion New Zealand team at Twickenham.

"Against South Africa he was physically outstanding and the work he does in the set-piece is huge," assistant coach Neal Hatley said.

"He (Itoje) is an attritional player. In Australia in 2016 he was leading the charge and we asked him to lead that charge.

"We have lots of players doing it - Kyle Sinckler as well - but we see Maro being able to do that because of his stature and because that's the way he likes to play the game.

"He likes to be confrontational. He likes to get on the front foot and if it's a strength, we will encourage him to keep pushing at it.

"If you ask people to play that way, there are sometimes going to be penalties around that."

England co-captain Dylan Hartley views Itoje, who is set to continue his second-row partnership with George Kruis, as a talisman for the team.

"Through his actions, he inspires people. Through his energy, he motivates people," Hartley said.

"He's the sort of player that doesn't just dip his toe into the water - he bombs straight in and that is good to follow. He's growing in that capacity and is a genuine leader.

"You've got to be on the right side of the ref, but you've got to be on that line, pushing it, because you take every advantage that you can get."

Eddie Jones is expected to make one enforced change when he names his team on Thursday.

Tom Curry has been ruled out of the remainder of the series by an ankle injury, creating a vacancy at openside flanker that will most likely be filled by Bath's Sam Underhill.

Owen Farrell, the architect of the Springboks' downfall, will continue at first five-eighth despite sustaining knocks during two late collisions with Andre Esterhuizen.