‘It’s massively disappointing’ – Itoje following England defeat to Argentina

Maro Itoje made three tackles in England's 29-30 loss to Argentina on Sunday
©INPHO/Billy Stickland

England international Maro Itoje described his team’s 30-29 loss to Argentina at Twickenham Stadium “massively disappointing” on Sunday night but maintains his belief in the squad as they head into the rest of their Autumn Nations Series campaign.

It was an odd day at Twickenham. For the first game of England’s Autumn campaign, Eddie Jones’ team failed to set the world alight, as Argentina picked up a win in West London for the first time in 16 years.

Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli scored 25 of those points for his side, while Gloucester’s Santiago Carreras’ try from a loose Owen Farrell pass in the midfield accounts for the rest.

Largely reliant on the boot of Farrell, England scored tries through Joe Cokanasiga and Jack van Poortvliet, Eddie Jones’ team flattering to deceive on their way to defeat.

Across the 80 minutes, England gave away too many penalties. A look at the Autumn Nations’ post-match report and that can be agreed with.

Both Argentina and England gave away 10 points each, the home side even conceding 13 turnovers, the team’s difficulty holding onto the ball allowing Argentina to gain an advantage.

“It’s massively disappointing,” Maro Itoje said, “the overarching message is we need to shore up our discipline, out discipline probably lost us that game. that’s the big takeaway.”

A frustrating day at the office, Argentina ground England down over the game. From the first time that points were on offer, Michael Cheika’s made their intentions known.

Taking the kicks from the most convertible positions allowed Los Pumas to pile pressure on England and keep them chasing the game.

Add to that an England side that looked disjoined and at times uncapable of scoring, it was the perfect storm for those sporting white and light blue hoops.

“We gave away a lot of back-to-back penalties,” he said. “We made a mistake when we made another mistake, which we really can’t afford to do against top-quality opposition.

“That was the theme of the game for us. When they got a positive, we allowed them to get a double-positive. Which allowed them to keep us under pressure.

“So, I guess that was pretty frustrating from our point of view."

With a review meeting coming tomorrow, England will be looking to put this result behind them sooner rather than later. Japan are the team’s next opposition next Saturday, but how are England going to turn the tables in such a short space of time?

“I think it’s trusting the system,” Itoje said, “pulling closer together as opposed to going off on our own individual course.

“That’s what we need to do this week, come closer together, become clearer in what we want to do, and hopefully that will translate when we come back onto the field.

“It really isn’t rocket science. Rugby isn’t rocket science. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

“We’ve had times, even with England, when things haven’t gone our way and the important thing to do in those situations is as a group, come closer together, be direct where we’ve gone wrong and why.

“And then people just have those adult conversations and move forward.”

In the coming weeks, England are only going to be tested further. Playing Argentina in something of a litmus Test ahead of opening up their Rugby World Cup campaign the same opposition next September, next Saturday it is Japan coming town, before the All Blacks and then South Africa.

A shorter week to prepare for their next Test, Itoje is steadfast in the faith of his teammates as they look to bounce back from such disappointment on Sunday afternoon.

“I trust the individuals, I trust my teammates,” Itoje said. “I think we have a lot of talent both in playing staff and support staff. We’ve just got to translate that onto the field.

“I do believe in what we are doing, if you look at the squad you know there’s talent there, we’ve just got to make sure we’re putting it onto the field.”