Lock Maro Itoje has warned the British & Irish Lions that they’ll need to differentiate between knowing what the Springboks will throw at them and stopping it.
Itoje is one of 37 players in Warren Gatland’s squad for their upcoming eight-match tour of South Africa and the 26-year-old will be one of the key senior players in their three-Test series against the Springboks.
In a candid interview with the Mail Sport, Itoje admitted how he loves the physicality that comes with facing the Boks and added that knowing the South Africans’ playing style and stopping it is two different matters altogether.
Itoje, who played for England against South Africa in the 2019 World Cup final, warned his Lions teammates against allowing their hosts any momentum or else they will be hard to stop.
‘First and foremost, it’s a beautiful country. It’s always nice to step on the African soil, so I’m looking forward to it. South Africa is obviously very different to the rest of Africa when it comes to rugby. A lot of the other southern-African countries such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya would all be massively excited about this tour.
‘The Lions is something that doesn’t need too much selling. It’s one of the few events that people go crazy for. It will shape up to be very feisty, I’m sure. The Springboks have their way of playing and it doesn’t change too much.
‘I love it when the game gets physical and the game gets tough. If you allow them to get going, it’s hard to stop.
‘They deservedly won the World Cup final. The way they play hasn’t really changed. They’ve always had a strong set piece, physical, kicking game, kick-chase.
‘That’s the hallmark of South African rugby. There’s a difference between knowing what’s coming and stopping it, which is what we need to do.’