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England find "flaw" in Maro Itoje's athletic ability

England have identified a weakness in Maro Itoje, but head coach Eddie Jones need not be unduly concerned by the lock's ten-pin bowling performance.

Itoje has been victorious on all nine of his England appearances, including the opening two RBS 6 Nations wins over France and Wales as England extended their winning run to 16 Tests.

The 22-year-old's scrummaging is so strong that although he was named at flanker in Cardiff, he packed down in the second row.

But some light relief in preparations for the February 26 clash with Italy at Twickenham exposed an athletic flaw in Itoje, who once won 31 successive matches which he started for Saracens and England.

Assistant coach Paul Gustard described Itoje's display at All Star Lanes in Bayswater as "embarrassingly bad" after a surprise excursion from this week's training base at Latymer Upper School after a morning aquatics recovery session.

"We went ten-pin bowling this morning," Gustard said on Tuesday evening.

"The boys thought we were going to do some forwards units and backs units.

"They were all dressed in their rugby kit, got into the coach to go to the school for units and we turned up at the bowling alley.

"Unsurprisingly Owen Farrell's pretty good. Quite competitive.

"(But) it wasn't really who was good, it was more who was bad - Maro Itoje without a doubt. Awful. Awful. Like embarrassingly bad. He needed rails.

"He couldn't get it down the lane."

England are using the fallow week in the Six Nations schedule to do some extra-curricular activity, some of which will remain private.

Preparations for Italy's trip to Twickenham resumed on Tuesday afternoon and continue with the central London training camp which runs until Friday.


From Belfast Telegraph