Former international referee Nigel Owens has opened up about the most difficult players that he had to officiate during his long-standing career.
The Welshman took charge of his 100th international back in December – France’s Autumn Nations Cup game against Italy – and has announced that game will be his last.
The 50-year-old’s first international was Portugal’s meeting with Georgia in 2003.
#1. Maro Itoje (England)
OWENS SAID: “Itoje is someone who plays right on the edge. That is what makes him such a great player. He must be so difficult to play against but he’s also difficult to referee and I mean that with the utmost respect.
“He plays with passion and on the line. It is difficult to tell Itoje not to bring the same confrontation and aggression to the game that he usually does. It would take away from his game.
“You don’t want him to change the way he plays but he needs to pick and choose when he gambles on the situation and when he doesn’t. And understand better those moments when you are under pressure and knowing when, if you take a risk and get it wrong, you will land your team in real trouble.”