Maro Itoje says England can beat ‘human’ New Zealand

England last played the All Blacks during their tour of New Zealand in 2014, before Itoje broke on to the international scene, however, the 24-year-old says he will be drawing on his experience with the Lions in Saturday’s game.

Flanker Itoje, the youngest member of Warren Gatland’s Lions squad in 2017, was a star performer during that tour of New Zealand – which ended in a draw – and believes he now “understands” the psyche of the All Blacks.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Itoje said: “They are human beings like you and I. They’re team that can be beaten, they’re a team that has been beaten.

“Let’s be crystal clear we are going out there on Saturday to win, it’s a very big game for us and there’s no doubt in my mind if we stick to the game plan that we will achieve just that.”

In their first autumn international, Eddie Jones’ England narrowly defeated South Africa at Twickenham last Saturday with Owen Farrell slotting a 73rd-minute penalty to clinch victory.

However, Itoje is anticipating a tougher test against the All Blacks, who in September were beaten 36-34 by South Africa in New Zealand for the first time since 2009.

He added: “I think it’s fair to say New Zealand have a bit more variety in their game, sometimes they want to go through you and sometimes they want to go around you, sometimes they want to attack the space.

“They have a lot more subtleties to their game so we have to be ready for whichever game plan New Zealand come out with. When you play a team like New Zealand you have to attack them. You attack them from the very start of the game, you try and impose your game on to them as quickly as possible.

“Some weeks [training] is a bit tastier than others and with this game it’s definitely a week where boys are definitely ready to perform.”

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action continues on Saturday against New Zealand before clashes against Japan and Australia

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