October 26, 2019 / 10:56 AM / 23 days ago

Rugby: We beat the best but job's not done yet, says England's Itoje

TOKYO (Reuters) - Maro Itoje said England might have beaten the best team in the world for more than a decade to get to the World Cup final on Saturday but they are still building as they look to finish the job next weekend.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Semi Final - England v New Zealand - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - October 26, 2019. England's Maro Itoje in action during a lineout. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

The 24-year-old lock forward was named man of the match after playing a leading role in England’s magnificent defensive and setpiece effort to build the platform for the 19-7 victory over defending champions New Zealand.

“Fair play to the All Blacks, they were the best team in the world for a reason, we really had to play for 80 minutes. It was a good day at the office for us,” Itoje said.

“I think we’re just building, game by game, week by week, we’re just building. We haven’t done the job yet but we’re one step closer.”

England coach Eddie Jones paid credit to the All Blacks, who had won the last two World Cups, before concurring with Itoje on the need to improve again before next week’s final against Wales or South Africa back at Yokohama International Stadium.

“We’re playing against a great team today, Steve Hansen is a great coach, Kieran Read is a great captain,” the Australian said.

“I’m really excited for the boys. We’ve got another week in the comp, pleased about that so we can see how we can get better.

“We played our game and our discipline was outstanding. Our forwards are well-drilled and tactically aware, but we can get better by taking more opportunities.”

All Blacks coach Hansen, who will stand down at the end of the tournament, said his team had been well beaten but he was still proud of their effort.

“Firstly I’d just like to congratulate England, they played a brilliant game of footy and deserved to win,” he said.

“You can’t give them half a step because they will take it. At the end of the day, you have to say well done to them.

“I’m really proud of our team, they’ve done a tremendous job for their country and tonight they weren’t good enough. We have to take that on the chin and so do the people back home.

“You saw the boys at the end, they were still trying their guts out and that’s all you can ask. Really proud of them.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Tony Lawrence

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