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'I think we should speak about it' - Maro Itoje on lucrative deals and facing the Bulls

Maro Itoje at Loftus Versfeld in South Africa

Maro Itoje is fully focussed on the task at hand as his Saracens side get ready to take on the Bulls in Pretoria on in the opening round of the Champions Cup on Saturday.

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The 29-year-old has been rumoured to be heading towards a lucrative move to France, but has yet to indicate what his plans may be.

Speaking to Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass TV ahead of this weekend’s match, he has said that players need to maximise their opportunities, as a rugby player’s career is a short one.

“When I say maximise, that includes financially, but that also includes the level of enjoyment, that also includes your family situation, that also includes life after rugby. So there’s all these different things that you have to take into consideration.

“But should we be comfortable speaking about it? I think we should speak about it and we shouldn’t vilify players whatever decision they make. Because one decision for one person doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for another and it is never as simple as it seems.”

Having played a significant part in England’s Rugby World Cup campaign that resulted in them ultimately finishing in third place, the demands of professional rugby have meant that the body and mind get very little time to recuperate.

“I don’t want to complain because you know, there’s far tougher jobs out there and it is a blessing to be doing what we are able to do. That being said, it is still mentally taxing.

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“You know, we go from a World Cup to the Premiership season to Europe, then back to the Six Nations, then back into Europe, then back into the Premiership then back into the tail end of the season. Then we go on a summer tour, we get a short break, then we’re into the Premiership, then into autumn… So, it is quite relentless.

“That being said, it is a blessing at the same time. If I was one of those players who weren’t really involved, I’d be dying to be in the position of playing these big games and being in these big occasions. As with everything in life, there is a bit of balance that needs to be had.”

Fixture
Investec Champions Cup
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27 - 16
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Saracens
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After losing out to the Springboks in a dramatic Paris semi final by just one point, the England and Saracens second row is excited for another physically demanding challenge.

“Yeah, you know South African teams, they tend to be really physical. The set piece is obviously a big part of their game, they normally have a strong kicking game and all those aspects are what we expect from the Bulls. They’ve been going pretty well in the URC. They have a number of Springboks, they have a number of good players. They just had a big result on the weekend.

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“So from my point of view it’s really exciting. If you take a step back, how lucky are we to be here in this environment in South Africa at the moment, playing rugby, traveling the world? It’s such a great opportunity. So from a Saracens point of view we just want to make the most of the opportunity.

“We’re looking to step up. We know the Bulls is going to be a tough game, but we have a good team. We have good players, we back ourselves.

“We love coming to arenas and beautiful stadiums like this to play. So yeah, we’re going to give our all.”

The full chat between Jim Hamilton and Maro Itoje can be watched on RugbyPass TV 

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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