The louder the better – Maro Itoje will welcome Principality Stadium noise

Maro Itoje will welcome the noise generated by a hostile Principality Stadium when England and Wales collide in front of a packed house in Cardiff for the first time in four years.

The pandemic meant the Autumn Nations Cup match in 2020 was held at an empty Parc y Scarlets, while there were also no fans present for last year’s Guinness Six Nations clash in the Welsh capital.

One element of a visit to Cardiff sticks out above all others for Itoje, who would not swap it even if it means Wales fans are “baying for our blood!”.

Maro Itoje playing in Cardiff behind closed doors two years ago
Maro Itoje playing in Cardiff behind closed doors two years ago (Adam Davy/PA)

“The noise! I remember the first time I played there. I was trying to get a message to one of my team-mates nearby and I had to literally scream at him. It’s a noisy, noisy stadium and the fans always give England a nice warm reception,” Itoje said.

“But it’s exciting and makes the ground unique. It makes the occasion very interesting and adds a little more colour to the event.

“I love that noise even if it is 60,000 people or so baying for our blood! I’d prefer that than a quiet, empty stadium which we experienced during Covid.

“After Covid you appreciate the atmosphere the fans bring to the stadium. It creates a much better environment for everybody. So the louder the better.

“I’ve also seen a lot of grandmothers throw some choice fingers up at the bus as we’ve gone by them.

“You draw on those past experiences. You know it is not an easy place to go to and that they will definitely be up for it, no matter their recent results.”