Three titles in five Championships marks an impressive Guinness Six Nations strike-rate for Maro Itoje but the chance to make people smile stood out most of all.
Victory in Italy combined with France’s narrow win over Ireland proved enough for England’s first Championship since 2017, recovering from a Round 1 defeat to win their last four matches.
The global pandemic meant 238 days separated their Round 4 and Round 5 matches, so offering some joy amidst the wider gloom proved rather timely for the Saracens lock.
“The good thing from our point of view, for us to put smiles on people’s faces, we just need to play good rugby, conduct ourselves in the right manner and win for England,” he said.
“If we win, people are generally happy. The world is here, there and everywhere at the moment, a lot of things aren’t straightforward and sport has the power to unite people, putting smiles on people’s faces.
“If people are going through tough times, sport can lighten the mood. If we, as an England team, can do that, that’s one of the great things we can do.
“This is the first time we’ve played together since Wales, that’s quite a long time, so to play against Italy and get the five points, that’s set the foundation of what we can do going forward.
“We want to get slicker, a little bit sharper, a bit more precise, but in general we’ve set a good foundation to moving how what we want to.”
England were far from at their best but did enough to win 34-5 in Rome, picking up a bonus point which proved vital come the end of a dramatic Super Saturday.
Rustiness was to be expected from a side that hadn’t played since March, with their experienced heads – including two-try centurion Ben Youngs – steering them over the line.
Itoje was once again front and centre of their success in starting all five matches – just as he did in the title-winning side three years ago.
The 26-year-old also played a starring role on debut 12 months prior but feels his England side have yet to reach their full potential despite completing his personal treble.
“I think we’re only just getting started in where we think we can go,” he said.
“We’ve won this Championship and been reasonably successful in the past but the exciting thing for me is for where we can go and where we can take things.
“We have a group of guys who are unbelievably committed and love playing for England, that’s been the overriding thing that I’ve observed since I’ve been back in camp since lockdown.
“There’s pure excitement and joy that individuals have when playing for England.
“This is the first time we’ve played together for a while, it wasn’t the smoothest of games but it’s a great foundation from us to progress from.
“The thing about this team, we want to get better, we want to progress, we don’t want to rest on our laurels, we don’t want to lick our wounds.”