Itoje urges England to 'break free' against Japan

Maro Itoje wants England to "break free" and go back to basics against Japan as they look to revive their Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham on Saturday.

England began their end-of-year campaign with a lacklustre 30-29 loss to Argentina last weekend as the visitors deservedly enjoyed just their second win at Twickenham.

Familiar failings in attack and a lack of discipline in defence plagued England against the Pumas, who in common with Japan will be one of their pool opponents at next year's World Cup in France.

Japan have yet to defeat England and, in contrast to Argentina's victory, it will be a huge upset if the Cherry Blossoms triumph against a Red Rose side now being steered by their former head coach Eddie Jones.

But Itoje has insisted there can be no room for complacency before England finish the calendar year with Twickenham encounters against perennial rugby giants New Zealand and reigning world champions South Africa.

"We need to break free and just go out there and be the players that we know we are," Itoje said.

The Saracens forward, continuing in the England back row after being moved from lock, added: "England are at our best when we are confrontational, aggressive, we play flat and fast and take the game to the opposition."

Japan gave England a scare when the teams last met four years ago, at Twickenham.

The Cherry Blossoms led 15-10 at half-time before suffering a 35-15 defeat

"Japan played really well in that game," recalled Itoje. "We were a little cold and didn't adapt to how they were playing as quickly as we'd have liked.

"That game highlights to me that this is not a team to be taken lightly...If you take them lightly, they will punish you."

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