England’s Nigerian-born rugby star, Maro Itoje has charged his colleagues to step up their efforts in order to have a better outing and avoid any shocks in their next test match against South Africa, megasportsarena.com reports.
Speaking against the backdrop of the first game between both sides this past weekend, the Saracens of England second row, who impressed during The Lions’ series opener on Saturday added that, despite their victory, his side must learn from their previous tours.
With that in mind, Itoje warned that they must expect a strong response from South Africa in Saturday’s second Test, even as he took delight in how The Lions overturned a nine-point half-time deficit to beat The Springboks 22-17 in Cape Town.
The 26-year-old Saracens lock echoed the mach commentor’s verdict that sounded all too ominous, as he roared: ‘Lions climbed a mountain to secure epic win but South Africa will come back even stronger.’
Indeed, The Lions found themselves 12-3 behind to the world champions at the break before hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie’s try helped change the tide and lay the foundations for a resilient second-half display.
However, while Warren Gatland’s side got off to the ideal start in their pursuit of a first series win in South Africa since 1997, Itoje used the 2001 tour of Australia as proof that winning the opener can sometimes prove a false dawn.
Itoje, a the three-time Six Nations winner, echoed BBC Sport columnist, Matt Dawson as he submitted: “Obviously this was a great win, but I’m a man who likes to look at history and see how other tours have unfolded.
“Looking at the 2001 Tests in Australia, they won the first Test quite convincingly and then went on to lose the next two. We’re happy but we know that we need to be better and stronger. The Springboks, we know they are coming.
“We’re learning lessons so I think there is more to come from us, but the onus is on us to look at what we’ve done. Winning a Test match with the Lions is rare.
“We only play once every four years and it’s unique, but this win will mean nothing unless we go out and win next weekend.
“So while this is a great win I’m proud to be part of, we know that we need to do a job next weekend. That’s when it really counts.”