Itoje says England have ‘eyes on the prize’ after Wales victory in Six Nations

<span>Maro Itoje poses for a picture with fans after <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:England;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">England</a>’s win over Wales.</span><span>Photograph: Tolga Akmen/EPA</span>

England have got their “eyes on the prize” after continuing their winning start to the Six Nations, according to Maro Itoje, and their pursuit of glory could be boosted by the timely return of Manu Tuilagi next week.

George Ford’s late penalty was enough for England to edge past Wales on Saturday and ensure they have started the championship with two wins for the first time since 2019, putting them second in the table behind Ireland.

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After the coming fallow week, England head to Murrayfield and, though they have won just one of their last six meetings with Scotland, Steve Borthwick is hopeful his ranks will be bolstered by a number of frontline players including Tuilagi.

“It means we’re in the game, it means we’re in the tournament,” Itoje said. “It means we’re putting ourselves in a positive position, which perhaps we may not have done in previous campaigns. It means that we have our eyes on the prize. It’s a different position for us and we’ve got a little bit of momentum.

“If you look at our performances during the World Cup, we built throughout the tournament. I think we’re going to do the same in this Six Nations. We’re going to build. We’re going to quietly go about our business and hopefully each game will get better and better, and hopefully pick up the wins as we can.”

Tuilagi has been out with a groin injury picked up shortly before Christmas but he will have another training session on Monday as he nears a return to fitness. Ollie Lawrence is also hopeful of an imminent return from a hip injury and in the pair’s absence, England have lacked carrying power in their narrow victories against Italy and Wales to date.

“[Manu] is training well and he’s running well,” said Borthwick, who is also likely to have the second-row George Martin available to face Scotland. “We’ll gradually increase the volume of his running and there’s another session on Monday. Every report I get is positive so far.”

George Ford, meanwhile, has warned that goal-kickers will have to “stand like statues” after the conversion controversy against Wales. Ford was lining up his kick after Ben Earl’s try had brought England back to 7-5 down but appeared to take a step to the left, prompting Wales’s Rio Dyer to race towards the ball before Elliot Dee kicked it off the tee.

The referee, James Doleman, ruled that Ford had begun his run-up, leaving the England fly-half bemused and unable to add the extras to Earl’s try. The relevant law states that, “all ­players retire to their goalline and do not overstep that line until the kicker moves in any direction to begin their approach to kick. When the kicker does this, they may charge or jump to prevent a goal.”

It was an incident similar to Cheslin Kolbe’s charge down of Thomas Ramos during the World Cup and though it did not ultimately prove costly for England, Ford said: “It doesn’t make sense to me. If adjusting your feet like that is initiating your run-up, then I’m not too sure.

“Some of us kickers are going to have to stand like statues at the back of our run-up now. Sometimes you don’t quite feel right at the back of your run-up, so you adjust it a bit and think: ‘right I’ve got it now’. What it means for us kickers is that we’ve got to be ultra-diligent with our setup and process, as if they’re going to go down that route and look for stuff like that, we can’t afford that.”