FREE Webinar Start Your Master Reseller PLR Business

Webinar

Home » How to » England want a psychologist and Itoje admits its all in the mind

England want a psychologist and Itoje admits its all in the mind

For Maro Itoje, the pursuit of physical supremacy has had to take a back seat in recent weeks.

Instead, the Saracens and England powerhouse has used the longest injury lay-off of his career to work on the few inches below his flopping locks.

Itoje has been out since injuring his knee in England’s Six Nations opener against Ireland. He suffered another setback a month later and will miss Saracens’ clash with Harlequins on Saturday.

Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje has used his latest injury to work on his mental approach

Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje has used his latest injury to work on his mental approach

Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje has used his latest injury to work on his mental approach

The forward suffered a knee injury in England's opening Six Nations match against Ireland

The forward suffered a knee injury in England's opening Six Nations match against Ireland

The forward suffered a knee injury in England’s opening Six Nations match against Ireland

But the frustration that comes with recovery and rehabilitation has been matched by a thirst for discovery.

The 24-year-old forward recently began listening to Finding Mastery, a podcast which explores the psychology of elite performance, how stars of all fields —sport, music, business — train their minds to push the boundaries of human potential.

‘Your mindset and the way you think is crucial to performing at the top level and to really being the best you can be,’ he explains.

‘I feel as if your outlook on life, let alone your sport, is very important and it has a strong correlation to you succeeding or not.’

The Saracens star has backed England coach Eddie Jones' decision to hire a psychologist

The Saracens star has backed England coach Eddie Jones' decision to hire a psychologist

The Saracens star has backed England coach Eddie Jones’ decision to hire a psychologist

The England head coach revealed his plans following his side's collapse against Scotland

The England head coach revealed his plans following his side's collapse against Scotland

The England head coach revealed his plans following his side’s collapse against Scotland

It is a timely addition to Itoje’s playlist.

Following England’s collapse against Scotland, when they surrendered a 31-0 lead to draw 38-38 at Twickenham, head coach Eddie Jones revealed his plan to recruit a sports psychologist before this year’s World Cup.

The aim? To tackle the apparent mental frailty that has seen England fail to press home an advantage in four Tests in the past year.

‘Eddie knows best on all those kind of things,’ says Itoje. ‘He knows the team and I don’t think there are many coaches who can match his World Cup record. So if he suggests that, I’m sure it’ll be for the good of the team.

At just 24 years of age, Itoje believes he still has plenty of room for development in his game

At just 24 years of age, Itoje believes he still has plenty of room for development in his game

At just 24 years of age, Itoje believes he still has plenty of room for development in his game

‘We’ve been very successful in the past with England. The things we’ve won speak for themselves but in all top sports, with all top athletes, the mental side is just as important as the physical.’

At only 24, Itoje already possesses a wise head on very wide shoulders. He distinguishes between Maro the player and Maro the person — the politics graduate and the fierce competitor who terrorises opposing teams.

But he’s not expecting to appear on his new podcast any time soon. ‘I don’t know if I’ve mastered mental separation. As with everything there is still evolution.’

He wants to keep learning and, even at 6ft 6in, there is ‘still room for growth’.

Itoje is an admirer of heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, who knows a bit about performing under pressure. So could he teach England anything? ‘If you have his number I’ll call him and ask him!’

Itoje spoke to Sportsmail's Daniel Matthews ahead of Saracens' clash with Harlequins

Itoje spoke to Sportsmail's Daniel Matthews ahead of Saracens' clash with Harlequins

 Itoje spoke to Sportsmail’s Daniel Matthews ahead of Saracens’ clash with Harlequins

During his spell at Saracens, Itoje has helped the club win two Champions Cup trophies

During his spell at Saracens, Itoje has helped the club win two Champions Cup trophies

During his spell at Saracens, Itoje has helped the club win two Champions Cup trophies

For now, though, Itoje has enough on his plate. He is back in full training and is set to play in Saracens’ Champions Cup quarter-final against Glasgow next week, to be shown on BT Sport. 

Owen Farrell should return alongside him, at a time when there are calls for Itoje to replace his team-mate as England captain in time for the World Cup.

Every winning skipper since 1995 has come from the pack but Itoje insists: ‘I fully support Owen, I have the pleasure of playing alongside him for club and country and he’s doing a fantastic job.

‘When he’s captain I think he actually improves as a player. He communicates better, he plays better as well. He lives and breathes rugby and I don’t know anyone who has more rugby intellect than him.’

But it’s been a trying week for Farrell. The fly-half was substituted against Scotland, having carried the responsibility of captaincy, kicking and playmaking throughout the championship.

‘He’s a true competitor, he knows the game inside and out, he lives and breathes rugby. A lot of people love rugby but he loves rugby,’ laughs Itoje.

Itoje has been tipped to replace his Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell as England captain

Itoje has been tipped to replace his Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell as England captain

Itoje has been tipped to replace his Saracens team-mate Owen Farrell as England captain 

England’s failure to hold on to leads against Wales and Scotland has punctured some of the momentum they had generated. Itoje, Farrell and Co now turn their attention to another bruising club campaign. But looming on the horizon remains the biggest prize.

Despite Wales’ Grand Slam, England are second favourites behind New Zealand to win in Japan and Jones’s squad will be built around a core of Saracens, with Itoje, Farrell, George Kruis and the Vunipola brothers among their ranks.

Success has come readily for them in recent years. But soon they must deliver when the stakes are ever higher.

‘We’ve won together at club level, we’ve won together at international level so it’s just about us doing what we do for longer periods of time,’ admits Itoje.

‘England are going in the right direction, I think the important thing is not peaking in the autumn, not peaking now, it’s about making sure we peak together during the World Cup.’

Itoje will form part of a core of Saracens players in Jones' squad for the 2019 World Cup

Itoje will form part of a core of Saracens players in Jones' squad for the 2019 World Cup

Itoje will form part of a core of Saracens players in Jones’ squad for the 2019 World Cup

BT Sport brings you all the action from the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup. 

Watch Saracens v Harlequins this Saturday at 2:30pm, exclusively live on BT Sport 1 and the award-winning app

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Subscribe To Get This FREE Book

Dr Don ICFO

Anthony Morrison’s PWA 2019 Review

Categories

Serving Our Readers Since 2004

Thank You For Your ICFO Support

Thanks for Your Likes and Share