An energised Itoje declared, “we know who we are” when challenged on how England can be so confident, despite losing three of their four warm-up matches last month.
England take on the Pumas in Marseille on Saturday night desperate to open their Pool D campaign with a win and a statement performance. And Saracens lock Itoje delivered a stirring defence of why England believe so strongly in themselves despite such poor form.
“We know who we are, we know the type of players we have, we know the quality of coaches we have,” he said. “Yes, we haven’t played as well as we can, but we know the potential of this group — and when you know the potential of this group, the attitude of the players and coaches, it can only fill you with confidence. Argentina have good players, but our mindset is to impose our game, our will, our strengths.”
England have lost six of their nine Tests under Steve Borthwick, including a 53-10 record home defeat by France and the 30-22 loss to Fiji, their first ever to the Pacific Islanders.
Borthwick’s selections and gameplan have appeared risk-averse, and England have been slipshod in both attack and defence. Itoje played alongside Borthwick at Saracens, before being coached by the former England captain as forwards specialist en route to the 2019 World Cup final.
Itoje hailed Borthwick as one of his best-ever coaches, insisting England’s players are ready to produce a top-level showing this weekend to ease the pressure on their boss.
“Steve is a great coach, one of the best I’ve worked with,” said Itoje. “Individually, I think I’ve played some of my best rugby under his stewardship.
“We want to have a great performance for him, for the team, for ourselves, for the country. We’re very proud to play for England, we don’t take that responsibility lightly.
“We want to give the best account of ourselves, and it’s for everyone involved in this camp – players, staff and most importantly the fans.”
England’s players are unimpressed with what they see as their World Cup chances being dismissed before any action has taken place.
Itoje admitted that has provided ample motivation ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash at the Stade Velodrome.
“Look, we know that we haven’t played our best rugby, and I guess that may add an element of fuel,” said the 28-year-old.
“But the real motivation is where this team can go. The real motivation is how we can properly display the best of ourselves, give the very best account of ourselves.
“It’s an incredible opportunity; the strong feeling and belief within the group now, things can change very quickly.”