Maro Itoje sent for acting classes by Eddie Jones to develop leadership skills

  • Jones reveals he is not sure if Itoje is future England captain
  • New book identifies Saracens scandal fallout as key issue

Eddie Jones has revealed he sent Maro Itoje to acting classes to try to improve his leadership skills but, at the moment, does not view the towering lock as a future England captain.

In a new book on leadership, published on Thursday, the England head coach outlined how he believes the now 51-times capped Itoje, a former England Under-20s World Cup-winning captain, is “inward-looking” and does not help other players develop away from the field of play.

“I might be wrong, but I am not sure Maro is a future England captain,” Jones said. “He is going to be one of the great players, but Maro is very inward-looking. He drives himself rather than anyone else. He doesn’t usually influence people off the field.

“Maro might be able to develop this skill and relate to people even more effectively, but he has work to do here. We’ve sent Maro to acting classes, which is having a beneficial effect. He speaks more influentially now, and I am hopeful he can develop more communication and leadership skills. Acting brings Maro out of himself.

“The acting classes are a practical step to helping Maro and others share that internal fire and magic which makes them special. We’re always looking to see if we can develop these traits and find the right mix of leaders.”

In the book, Jones also details how a sense of entitlement among the squad and the fallout from Saracens’ salary cap scandal which undermined his leadership group derailed their 2021 Six Nations in which they finished fifth.

“Eventually the leadership group would crack as the influence of the Saracens contingent waned,” Jones wrote in the book.

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The solution was to reinvent the squad and leadership group, a process begun during England’s summer series while the Lions were playing, and which continued with big-name players such as Mako and Billy Vunipola and George Ford being left out of the autumn internationals.

In leadership terms, Courtney Lawes replaced the injured Farrell as captain for two of the three internationals in November, with vice-captains Tom Curry and Ellis Genge.

Leadership, by Eddie Jones, published by Pan Macmillan, £20

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