Michael Cheika’s Wallabies have been warned to expect a rejuvenated England outfit not just based on the magic of coach Eddie Jones, but the emergence of young star Maro Itoje.
The versatile forward, comfortable at lock and in the back-row, is considered the brightest talent in English rugby and made his international debut during this year’s Six Nations triumph on route to a rare grand slam.
The exciting Itoje impressed immediately, forcing his way into the match-day 23 for a debut against Italy before his physical play won a spot in Eddie Jones’ starting lineup for the final three Six Nations Tests.
He’s considered a shoo-in to make the touring squad for England’s three-Test series in Australia in June.
And now two European-based former Wallabies have sounded a warning to their national teammates about what to expect from the 116kg, 195cm Itoje – with ex-skipper James Horwill raving “he could be anything”.
“There’s no doubt he’s a very talented, physically gifted sort of player. He’s very athletic,” Horwill told AAP.
“Talking to a few guys (in England), the talk has been that could be the next big thing and he seems to be living up to that expectation.
“He has a lot of potential and if he continues to stay on this path, he can do anything in the game.”
Coach Eddie Jones has done his best to douse the hype surrounding his young star, wary of the pressure the savage British press could bring the 21-year-old.
“It can be a bit of a brutal beast, the media over here,” Horwill explained.
“You can see they turn quite quickly. I think Eddie’s experienced enough and has been with enough people that have been in that mindset.
“Eddie will definitely do a good job in managing that, not putting too much on him too early but he’s certainly a player that has a lot of potential.”
Waratahs, Reds and Wallabies flanker Beau Robinson agrees the June tour could prove to be a breakout series for the Saracens forward against the World Cup runners-up.
“Absolutely, a bloke like that, from what I’ve seen, would revel in a Test series against Australia,” Robinson said.
“He’ll take a lot of confidence out of (his performances in the Six Nations).
“I think he will definitely be excited to be playing, especially with the Australians who have got a quality pack from one to eight.”