Lions’ lock Maro Itoje ‘looking forward’ to his next challenge

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Maro Itoje faces a new challenge this week when he takes on the responsibility of calling the lineouts, during the second Lions Test against the All Blacks.

However, the 22-year-old Saracens lock seems unnerved at the prospect of getting the better of New Zealand’s second-row pairing of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

Itoje will partner Alun Wyn Jones at the Westpac Stadium on Saturday, when the tourists must win to keep the series alive.

And speaking ahead of the second Test in Wellington, Itoje said: “Calling the lineouts changes my role obviously. But I’ve called lineouts in the past, so it’s not something that’s new.

“In a lot of the games I’ve been calling the lineouts on this tour, so it’s not something that’s been sprung upon me. I’ve been preparing for moments like this.

“So obviously there’s a bit more preparation and planning. But it’s business as usual from here.”

As for dealing with Retallick and Whitelock, Itoje added: “We acknowledge they are two good operators, very talented guys with a good work ethic. But the challenge on us is to surpass that.

“We’ve got a good challenge in front of us. It’s one we’ve prepared well for this week, and one we’ll rise to at the weekend.

 

 

“We haven’t come here to be second best, we haven’t come here to be second fiddle. We’re going out on Saturday to do a job, and to get the result we want.”

Itoje, who came off the bench in the first Test at Eden Park last week, continued: “It was the first time I’d played the All Blacks, and it’s obvious they are a talented team with good players.

“I don’t think we played to our potential last week. I think we let things slip through our hands, and we’ll try our best this week to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“We need to improve in the contact, the physicality, we’ve got to switch on and be sharp for the whole game.”