Maro Itoje is keen not to lose his edge but acknowledges he is always looking to refine his playing style.
Itoje’s competitive fire and winning mentality has made him a key cog in the England machine ever his international debut back in 2016.
However, his confrontational style has sometimes seen him get on the wrong side of referees, with the lock conceding five penalties during the 40-24 defeat to Wales in Round 3 that ended England’s hopes of retaining their Guinness Six Nations title.
He bounced back in style against France, infringing just once, spurring his country forward and ultimately scoring the decisive late try in the 23-20 triumph.
And the 26-year-old accepts he has to make slight adjustments to his game without compromising the traits that make him a world-class operator.
“There’s been a bit of perception that has come about with my game and how I play the game. I am just working hard to try to change that perception,” Itoje said.
“I don’t want to lose any of the good stuff that I do because 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.
“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.
“I don’t want to lose my key characteristics because if I do that, then you might as well play somebody else because that is the stuff that makes me, me.
“My attitude makes me the player I am. At the same time, I have to thread that needle more effectively. I didn’t give away as much against France, so that’s a step in the right direction.”
Itoje and England conclude their Championship campaign with a trip to Dublin to face Ireland on Super Saturday, looking to extend their winning streak against the men in green to five matches in all competitions.