Rugby World Cup: Maro Itoje confident England can defeat South Africa

Rugby World Cup: Maro Itoje confident England can defeat South Africa

England lock Maro Itoje is confident his charges have what it takes to topple the defending champion Springboks in the Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The rivals collide at the Stade de France on Saturday with the Springboks red-hot favourites to retain the crown they won against England in Yokohama four years ago.

But Steve Borthwick's men are the only unbeaten side left in the tournament and Itoje is convinced they have yet to play their best rugby since landing on these shores seven weeks ago.

"South Africa are a good team. They are the current world champions, they've had a very good World Cup," the Saracens second row said.

"We've played them twice since 2019, they've won one, we've won one. We're not talking about a team that has never lost, we're not talking about a team that is without fault - they are a good team, but so are we.

"I believe there is still a huge amount of growth to come from this team and I feel we haven't seen the best of us yet.

"For us, it's about imposing our game. We don't want to sit back and just watch them do their thing, we want to be England rugby.

"I believe that if we put our best out on the field, we are going to be celebrating on Saturday night and have a positive night.

"When you get to these games, a lot of people say, 'it's just another game'. This isn't just another game. This is a special game. People are aware of what's at stake.

"These are special games and you don't get many opportunities like this. It's about us seizing the moment, being really present and taking any opportunities we get."

Itoje is one of eight survivors from the starting XV that was routed 32-12 by South Africa in the 2019 final and while Saturday offers the chance to avenge that defeat, the 28-year-old sees no value in looking backwards.

"Different experience, different context, different opposition. It helps having the experience of playing in a semi-final before, but it™s completely, completely different," he said.

"We have to play the game that's in front of us. We have to play this South African team, not the South African team of however many years ago. This South African team, not the one that they may be after this.

"We have to be as individuals and as a collective, we have to be really present. We have to be really in the moment to deal with what we need to deal with."