The Saracens contract situation that has most gripped the attention since their automatic relegation to the Championship for 2020/21 was confirmed in January has been ironed out – England talisman Maro Itoje has committed his long-term future to the club despite much speculation of a move elsewhere.
There had been in initial rumours that he could spend next season on loan at Racing 92 but that was scotched by rival Premiership club executives refusing to bend the rules and suddenly allow Eddie Jones pick overseas-based players for the England Test squad.
There was also speculation that was being lined up for a switch to Leicester, given his England and Lions connections with Steve Borthwick, the new Tigers head coach. That link was also knocked on the head.
And even on Thursday, in the wake of the announcement of Owen Farrell’s contract extension at Saracens, came the story that Itoje and a few other players might link up with a South African Super Rugby franchise next April and May ahead of the Lions tour once England’s 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign was finished.
That notion hit the buffers overnight, the New Zealand rugby union outlining its plans for a new 2021 tournament that would leave the South African teams very much in the lurch.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) July 17, 2020
Away from all that, though, what has been confirmed is that Itoje, touted as a possible Lions captain next year, is standing by Mark McCall’s squad for the foreseeable future, a decision that follows in the footsteps of similar commitments from fellow World Cup final starters Farrell, Jamie George, Elliot Daly and Mako and Billy Vunipola.
“I’m massively excited to be a part of this club,” Itoje said. “I’ve been part of Saracens since I was 14-years-old and we have had some great memories.
“The culture at Saracens is second to none and that is evident for everyone to see. I’m really looking forward to the future; the future is going to be brighter than our past. The future is in our hands and we have the power to shape our own destiny.”
Director of rugby McCall added: “From his early days in our academy to being part of the club’s biggest moments, Maro has been a vital member of the Saracens project and we are thrilled he is committing to Saracens.
“On and off the field, Maro is a diligent, professional and thoughtful individual, who sets the example of what it means to use every opportunity you are given to improve. At 25, it is very exciting to think where he can take his game, this team and our club in the future.”
Itoje has achieved a lot in his career in a short space of time since debuting for Saracens against Cardiff Blues in 2014. His rise from the Saracens academy to the international stage has seen him captain his country to a Junior World Championship title, skipper his club to LV= Cup success as well as being named the 2016 European player of the year.
He has also played a key part in Sarries winning three Heineken Champions Cups and four Premierships, making 119 club appearances to date.
Losing 12 internationals, some for a year, some for good, won't stop Sarries putting out a scary 23 next season in the Championship. https://t.co/f3ILXvrdwB
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 12, 2020
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