Six Nations: Maro Itoje believes England have an ‘incredible opportunity’ to take against France | Rugby Union News
England face France at the Stade de France on Saturday night in the final game of the Six Nations; a victory for England will deny France a Grand Slam title; Maro Itoje: “Our motivation is to win, we don’t want to let this game pass us by”
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 18/03/22 3:56pm
Maro Itoje believes England have a ‘special opportunity’ to take against France on Saturday as they aim to finish their Six Nations campaign on a high note.
Eddie Jones’ team were removed from the title race when they fell to a spirited defeat by Ireland in round four and they arrive in Paris with the aim of avoiding finishing in the bottom half of the table.
France are expected to complete the Grand Slam having already proved themselves to be the competition’s outstanding team, but Itoje warns England are playing for pride.
“We’re in good shape. There was a lot of effort [put in] during the game but ultimately, we fell short,” Itoje said.
“For us, obviously, there was a bit of physical recovery and mental recovery that we needed to do this week. This a special opportunity for us as a team and as individuals. We’re going to be ready to go.”
France have had a great Six Nations but we want to finish strong, so it’s about creating our own party rather than spoiling theirs.
Head coach Eddie Jones has made five changes to the that took on Ireland at Twickenham, with George Furbank, Ben Youngs, Will Stuart, Nick Isiekwe, Sam Underhill coming in.
Six Nations – Round Five fixtures
|Saturday at 2.15pm||Wales vs Italy|
|Saturday at 4.45pm||Ireland vs Scotland|
|Saturday at 8pm||France vs England|
France have everything on the line in this encounter; if they lose and Ireland beat Scotland then the title will belong to Andy Farrell’s team. With a home World Cup on the horizon for Les Bleus next year, the significance of this match is not lost on anyone.
“Our motivation is to win, we don’t want to let this game pass us by,” Itoje said. “This is an incredible opportunity and the type of challenge that we want against a top-quality team.
“Playing for England is an absolute honour and you can’t take these types of moments for granted. You never know when they’re going to come again.
Six Nations – Standings
“The future is not guaranteed, but what we can guarantee is living in the present. For us, we want to go out there and play our game.
“We’re not just here to take part and make up numbers. We want to be confrontational and to win this game.”
England travelled to Paris earlier in the week and have been training ahead of their encounter on Saturday night
“It’s about the type of team and individuals we want to be,” Itoje continued. “Ultimately, we are playing for the win and for each other.
“Away victories in the Six Nations are tough, history suggests that home teams tend to have an advantage.
“France are a good team, with a lot of good players but I also believe that we’re are too. I think that we can impose ourselves on this game.”
France XV: 15 Melvyn Jaminet, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain); 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Cameron Woki, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 Francois Cros, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 8 Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jean Baptiste Gros, 18 Mohamed Haouas, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Thibaud Flament, 21 Dylan Cretin, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Thomas Ramos.
England XV: 15 George Furbank, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Jamie George, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Harry Randall, 22 George Ford, 23 Elliot Daly.