British & Irish Lions

'It was painful': Itoje used lockdown to finally watch RWC final loss to Springboks

Maro Itoje after England's loss to South Africa in the World Cup final in Yokohama on 2 November 2019 (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Maro Itoje after England's loss to South Africa in the World Cup final in Yokohama on 2 November 2019 (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers

England lock Maro Itoje has taken a long time to get over the "painful" Rugby World Cup loss to South Africa in November last year.

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Itoje was speaking on the All Black great Dan Carter's 'Kickin It' video series on Instagram when he revealed he only recently watched the replay of England's 32-12 defeat in Yokohama.

"The final was extremely disappointing and it took me a long while to be able to watch the final. It was too painful," Itoje said.

"The first time I watched it was during the lockdown and I wanted to take lessons from it. There are always lessons in victory and defeat and allowing my emotions to watch the game will make me a better player. It was still painful to watch, but I’m more optimistic about the future than the past and we have a lot of good years left in us."

Carter could relate to Itoje, having also suffered World Cup heartache in 2003 and 2007, before the All Blacks claimed back-to-back triumphs in 2011 and 2015.

"In a funny way, I'm glad that Maro is hurting a little bit because my first World Cup in 2003 I got over in four or five days. Then I had a lot of success after that and got to 2007 and wasn’t hurting as much as I should have from 2003," Carter said.

In 2003, New Zealand lost 22-10 to Australia in the semi-finals, before a shock 20-18 defeat to France in the quarter-finals in 2007.

Carter added: "We got dealt with by the French in the quarter-finals and that one really hurt for a good six months. Through that hurt, you do digest what went wrong as a team and admitted we weren’t a good team when it came to pressure. I’m not saying England were the same as us but there has to be something in there that they will learn from and become stronger.

"We learnt from 2007 and that was the platform for us to be successful in 2011 and 2015. England now have a lot of guys who have experience and know what it took to get all the way to the final but not quite get there and that will hurt. It will feed their hunger come four years' time."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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