"Records Are Meant to Be Broken" - Maro Itoje Rallies England to end All Blacks 30-Year Eden Park Streak - Ruck

“Records Are Meant to Be Broken” – Maro Itoje Rallies England to end All Blacks 30-Year Eden Park Streak

England lock Maro Itoje believes that his side have what it takes to be history makers, as they take on New Zealand this Saturday at Eden Park. The All Blacks have not lost at Eden Park in 30 years, with 48 consecutive wins in the Auckland fortress. However, Itoje backs his brigade to storm the barracks, and record an unforgettable win on the weekend.

Drawing inspiration from an athletics-focussed documentary, Itoje echoed the message of the most successful sprinters. England were defeated by the All Blacks last night in Dunedin, yet Itoje rallied his squad in the post-match media with a drawn Test match series eyed upon upon the horizon.

Maro Itoje of England during the England Captains Run ahead of the Guinness Six Nations at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Friday 3rd February 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

“Ah, well, I think that’s obviously the record they have, that’s the past. You know, I’ve been watching Sprint, have you seen Sprint, on Netflix? It’s like their version of Full Contact or Drive to Survive, about athletics. They always say, or a phrase I’ve heard regularly, ‘records are meant to be broken’. They have an impressive record there. And the task for us is to break it.”

Once again rising to the big occasion against the All Blacks, Maro was a stand-out performer from Steve Borthwick’s side that took a one-point defeat in Dunedin. The lock was name-checked by New Zealand head coach Scott Robertson, as to why the All Blacks’ line-outs didn’t always go to plan, with Itoje’s immense efforts shining brightest upon the biggest stages. The lock also crossed over for an important try at the Forsyth Barr stadium, in what was a brilliant all-round outing.

Itoje explained how he is enticed by the rugby heritage of New Zealand, and how any trip to Aotearoa gets the best performance out of him. A 22-year-old Itoje was selected for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour, and despite missing out on the first Test, the lock had masterful performances in the second and decisive third equaliser. Speaking on how he steps up a gear when the silver ferns are flying high above his head, Itoje said;

“It’s just, they have a great rugby tradition. And when you play in New Zealand, you have to be at your best. If you’re not your best, you don’t really have a chance of coming to the party. And, you know, these are the kinds of games that I love. 

“These are the kinds of games I relish. And, you know, these are the games where you know, if you put your best foot forward, it is the biggest stage. So these are the type of atmosphere and occasions I’m drawn to.”

“Well, those experiences, those (Lions) tours are extremely special. They have a special place in my heart and it’s probably more than mindset of what you need to do, or how you need to be when you play with England. And it was probably quite fortunate. 

“I was able to experience that playing (for the Lions.) I didn’t play all the games (in 2017) but being part of the process of playing all the Super teams and then playing the All Blacks three times, and almost know what you have to do and what you can’t do against them.”

Motivation is not a factor to worry about for the Saracens stalwart, who backs his England boys to be fired up and ready to go for the second Test. Despite England now being unable to bring home an out-right series win from the two matches, Itoje expressed how his side would be firing all cylinders to achieve a Lions-esque series draw against the All Blacks.

“How do you not? (Get motivated) This is an incredible opportunity for us, like England haven’t won here for so long. We want to change that narrative, If you want to be a different team, we’ll leave a different type of legacy. 

“So we’ve got one week, and that’s one week to give our all, one week to apply ourselves one week to get a result which we know we’re capable of. We were you know, on a different day, we perhaps would have got the rub of the green, and we would have got the job done today. But we just build for next week.” 

Maro Itoje of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“They’re (New Zealand) a good team but they are just a team. And unfortunately we fell short today but the plan next week is to try and turn that around.”

Despite having played an immense 32 matches this season, Itoje is still ready to go for the final Test of the 2023/24 campaign. This arduous tenure has come under the scrutiny of player welfare groups, yet Itoje expressed no desire to slow down or miss out the second match against the All Blacks. Having overcome a mid-season knee issue, the lock actually feels fitter at the end of the 13-month slog, than he did half-way through the year.

“I felt good (against New Zealand). I felt really good going into the game. I feel sharp, weirdly enough, I actually feel a bit better now than I did halfway through the season. So yeah, all good.” 

“I think midway through the season, my knee was playing up. And now that all that trouble has subsided. So I’m going into games feeling a lot sharper and feeling a bit more like myself.” 

“There wasn’t, there was never a discussion (that Itoje would miss the All Blacks games). I wasn’t really intending to either. You know, playing for England is something that I don’t take lightly. And it’s what we, you know, the opportunity we have, obviously didn’t go our way today, but the opportunity we have was for me too great to miss.”