England slumped to just five wins in 12 Tests in 2022, their worst return since 2008 en route to Eddie Jones’s sacking as head coach.
Steve Borthwick has swept into the England hot-seat, taking charge for the first time in Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham. Saracens lock Itoje will win his 63rd cap in the Calcutta Cup clash, and admitted England are ready to turn the page on their miserable 2022.
“It goes without saying that last year wasn’t the best year of my career in an England shirt,” said Itoje. “We didn’t represent the rose in the way that we want. As players, we acknowledge that, and the fans deserve better.
“We don’t want to characterise our careers in that sort of fashion, we want to be successful and we want to win. The exciting thing is we have a fresh opportunity to right those wrongs.
“The worst thing you can have in life is regret. We have an opportunity to start new, start afresh and write a new chapter in English rugby.
“Talent has never been our issue, it’s about how we put it all together, how we are as a team, how we operate as a collective. Over the last two weeks we’ve worked a lot on our basics — scrum, lineout, maul — how we are as a cohesive group of players.
“These are moments hard to replicate, these moments are quite fleeting; they’ll be gone sooner than we know. We have an incredible amount of passion and pride representing the rose.
“We’re fully aware that, especially in the autumn, it wasn’t up to the standard we would expect of ourselves. But as a team we are really excited about what we can do.”