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Itoje states that England has their focus on winning the Six Nations after defeating Wales.
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Itoje states that England has their focus on winning the Six Nations after defeating Wales.

Maro Itoje states that England is focused on achieving their goal, as they have maintained their winning streak in the Six Nations. Additionally, the team’s quest for victory could be enhanced by Manu Tuilagi’s timely comeback next week.

England narrowly defeated Wales on Saturday thanks to a late penalty kicked by George Ford. This victory marks the first time since 2019 that England has won their first two matches of the championship and places them second in the standings, behind Ireland.

Following the upcoming bye week, England will travel to Murrayfield. Despite only winning one of their last six matches against Scotland, Steve Borthwick is optimistic that the team will have several key players, including Tuilagi, available.

Itoje expressed that being in the game and the tournament signifies that they are putting themselves in a favorable position, something they may not have achieved in past campaigns. It also shows their determination to win and their current positive momentum.

During the World Cup, our team’s performances improved as the tournament went on. I believe we will follow the same pattern in the upcoming Six Nations. We will gradually improve and focus on our goals without drawing too much attention. With each game, we hope to see even better results and hopefully come out with victories.

Tuilagi has been out with a groin injury picked up shortly before Christmas but he will have another training session on Monday as he nears a return to fitness. Ollie Lawrence is also hopeful of an imminent return from a hip injury and in the pair’s absence, England have lacked carrying power in their narrow victories against Italy and Wales to date.

Manu Tuilagi scores a try for England at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France

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According to Borthwick, “[Manu] is performing well in training and his running is also looking good.” It is expected that George Martin, who plays in the second row, will also be able to play against Scotland. “We will gradually increase the amount of running he does and there will be another session on Monday. So far, all reports have been positive.”

George Ford has cautioned that kickers must remain still when taking conversions following the controversy during the match against Wales. Ford was preparing to kick after Ben Earl scored a try, bringing England to within two points at 7-5. However, he seemed to move to the left, causing Wales’s Rio Dyer to approach the ball before Elliot Dee kicked it from the tee.

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The referee, James Doleman, declared that Ford had started his approach, leaving the England fly-half confused and unable to score the extra points for Earl’s try. According to the applicable rule, “all players must retreat to their goalline and not cross that line until the kicker begins their approach to kick in any direction. At that point, they may charge or jump to block a goal.”

It was an incident similar to Cheslin Kolbe’s charge down of Thomas Ramos during the World Cup and though it did not ultimately prove costly for England, Ford said: “It doesn’t make sense to me. If adjusting your feet like that is initiating your run-up, then I’m not too sure.

“Some of the kickers will now have to remain stationary at the back of their run-up. At times, one may not feel comfortable at the back of the run-up and make adjustments, thinking ‘okay, now I’ve got it.’ This change requires kickers to be extremely diligent with their setup and approach. If the opposing team is going to scrutinize and search for any potential issues, we cannot afford to overlook any details.”

Source: theguardian.com