England: Maro Itoje urges team-mates to increase intensity in second Test against the Wallabies

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Maro Itoje has called on England to increase the intensity when they take on Australia in the second Test of the series, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Despite playing most of the opening match with a one-man advantage – after Wallabies lock Darcy Swain was red carded late in the first half – England suffered a 30-28 defeat in Perth at the weekend.

Two late converted tries from Henry Arundell and Jack van Poortvliet gave some respectability to the end result which means England have now lost their last four internationals.

Tougher challenge awaits

It also ended Eddie Jones‘ men’s eight-match winning run against Australia and Itoje believes England’s challenge against the Wallabies will become tougher during the rest of the series.

“It’s about raising the intensity. Every three-Test series I have played in the intensity of game two goes up. Game two is one of the crucial games,” Itoje said.

“Both Lions tours I’ve been on, and on the Aussie tour last time we were here, the intensity went up in game two.

“We need to raise the intensity, narrow our focus, focus on what’s important. We’ll be gunning for game two.

“In those moments when your back is against the wall the team has to get tighter. We have to narrow our focus, play tough rugby.

“That’s what is required of us as a team, as forwards, me as an individual. It’s about focussing and doing what we need to do to get the W.”

England’s planned post-match social was cancelled in Perth as they began the debrief of their defeat which was one of the worst of Jones’ stint as head coach after they let a 14-9 lead crumble during the final quarter.

That, after Australia lost veteran fly-half Quade Cooper with a calf strain shortly before kick-off and full-back Tom Banks and prop Allan Alaalatoa also departed with injuries in the first half before Swain was sent off for headbutting Jonny Hill.

“I’ve played Australia numerous times and they always fight. They don’t go away. The way they prepared and played, nothing was too much of a surprise to me,” added Itoje.

“It’s definitely one that got away. There are aspects of the game we didn’t manage as best as we would have liked.

“It’s a bit disappointing from our point of view but we’ve got two games left and will look to rectify it in Brisbane.”

England’s attack is one of the areas which needs urgent attention. They made a good start but lost their way in that department as the match progressed before a late cameo from teenage sensation Arundell saw them finishing the match with a flurry.

Playmaking partnership not firing

Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell’s playmaking partnership was partly to blame but Jones will continue with the duo as he believes they will come good as a combination.

“I’ve seen enough evidence that it will click. They’ve had one and a half games together and they’ll be very good together, but it takes time,” Jones said.

“There’s a lot of improvement in that area. They created some opportunities which we were not quite clinical enough to take. That’s what we need to make sure we work on.”

There are calls for Jones to choose either Smith or Farrell at fly-half and drop the other, although the lack of options at inside centre means the coach is set to persist with the duo for now.

“I didn’t think we fired enough shots for a number of reasons, but I’m excited about what we can do together. I’m looking forward to getting it right hopefully,” Farrell said.

READ MORE: Tom Curry: England flanker ruled out of remainder of Australia series due to concussion

The article England: Maro Itoje urges team-mates to increase intensity in second Test against the Wallabies appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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