Maro Itoje says England have yet to play to their full potential and know that the Springboks aren’t invulnerable ahead of the World Cup semi-final clash in Paris on Saturday.
Unlike in the 2019 World Cup final, England have come into this semi-final as firm underdogs, despite being the only unbeaten side at the tournament after a stuttering start to life under Steve Borthwick.
Since that fateful day in Yokohama, the Red Roses and Springboks have clashed twice at Twickenham, with each side getting a win.
This will be the first time England face South Africa at a World Cup since the 32-12 defeat and Itoje knows there are areas for the defending world champions to be targeted.
“If you’re lucky, you manage to get two or three games of his magnitude, but over the course of a career, that’s not many,” Itoje said. “So we’re aware this an opportunity to take the bull by the horns.
“They are the current World Champions. They’ve had a very good World Cup but we’ve played them twice since 2019. They’ve won one, we’ve won one.
“We’re not talking about a team that’s never lost. We’re not talking about a team that is without fault. They are a good team but so are we.”
After winning just two of their five fixtures in the Six Nations, England were dealt a massive mental blow when flying Fijians claimed a historic victory at Twickenham in a World Cup warm-up.
However, Steve Borthwick’s side has fought through a pool containing Japan and Argentina, finishing top despite not playing the prettiest style.
With England having held out to claim a nailbiting victory against Fiji in the quarter-finals, Itoje says the best is yet to come.
“That’s what I believe. I believe that there is a huge amount of potential in this team.
“If we put our best out on the field we will be celebrating on Saturday night and have a positive night.
“You haven’t seen the best of us yet.”
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