Maro Itoje out to change perceptions after stand-out effort in Le Crunch

England's Maro Itoje in action against France

England's Maro Itoje hopes his performance against France changes the perceptions of him as a player. - Credit: DAVID DAVIES/PA

Max Malins may have made his first England start in a thrilling victory over France but it was another player who once donned the Old Albanian jersey that stole the limelight. 

Maro Itoje's try five minutes from time, converted by fellow former pupil of Harpenden St George's Owen Farrell, proved decisive in the 23-20 success in the Six Nations at Twickenham. 

And while it hasn't completed eradicated memories of indifferent performances against Scotland and Wales, for Itoje, one of the main culprits in the undisciplined showing in Cardiff, it was a cathartic performance and one he hopes alters the perception of how he plays. 

He said: "There's been a bit of perception that has come about with my game and how I play it. I am just working hard to try and change that. 

"If you give away five penalties then referees will hear the outside noise that says Maro Itoje gives away a lot of penalties. Everything has an influence. 

"Things that people say, things that people think - they all affect how referees prepare for the game. At the moment that's the perception. 

"Obviously I never want to lose my bite, I never want to lose my edge. I believe my mentality makes me the player I am. I want to still be as confrontational as I can. 

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"I know what I can bring to a team and how I can influence a game. But, at the same time, I want to change that perception. 

"It's just about making better decisions. I need to understand and read referees better. Make better decisions when I am on the field. 

"I didn't give away as much against France, so that's a step in the right direction." 

His score was his third try in 47 Tests and along with Farrell's 13, and a try from Anthony Watson, it helped overturn a half-time deficit. 

And Itoje hopes the confidence the win brings can be carried into the final game on Saturday away to Ireland. 

He said: "I don't really score much, it's once in a blue moon, so I'll take it whatever it looks like.  

"This performance was not perfect. There were still loads of things that we can get better and be a bit sharper at but I do believe we were better and it was a bit more of what we want to be as a team." 

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