Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Maro Itoje v Martin Johnson comparison

Maro Itoje has invited comparisons with all-time great Martin Johnson following a stellar start to his England career. Here Press Association Sport compares the two second rows.


Only one winner in this department with Itoje's speed and dexterity setting him apart, not just against Johnson but any forward in the game.

Advantage: Itoje


Johnson bristled with aggression, playing on the edge throughout his career, and was no stranger to the rugby judiciary. Itoje has been told by England he needs more mongrel.

Advantage: Johnson


Itoje has the power and timing to put in big hits, but Johnson was a true second-row enforcer whose glowering presence commanded respect.

Advantage: Johnson


As a Grand Slam-winning captain and the player at the helm for England's only World Cup triumph, Johnson has a substantial edge here, but Itoje has led the Under-20s to junior championship glory and has also skippered Saracens.

Advantage: Johnson


Johnson thrived in the big match environment while Itoje's performances to date suggest he could have been introduced earlier.

Advantage: Even


Johnson's first four Tests were three games against New Zealand and one against France and he was only on the losing side once. Itoje has faced Italy, Ireland and Wales.

Advantage: Johnson


Itoje could yet find his home at blindside flanker such is his athleticism and ability to produce big impacts, but Johnson was an out and out second row.

Advantage: Itoje


It is hard to argue to argue against what Johnson achieved, but in three games Itoje has signposted a career destined for greatness.

Advantage: Even


It is still early days in Itoje's career, but he is up against a legend of the game in Johnson and will have to produce consistently over the next decade if he is to be considered the equal of his predecessor in England's second row.


From Belfast Telegraph