Maro Itoje has pledged his commitment to Saracens for their upcoming season in the Championship, admitting there are currently no plans in the pipeline for a loan move elsewhere so that he can have a higher level of club league rugby leading into 2021 Lions tour. However, he did admit he would like to eventually leave the club before his career ends to experience the club scene outside England.
A star on the 2017 Lions trip to New Zealand, England talisman Itoje has been the subject of much speculation that he could pitch up somewhere other than Saracens in the 2020/21 season on a short-term deal. An approach from Racing 92 to head to France for the season was reportedly blocked by Premiership clubs who insisted Eddie Jones must only select England-based players for his Test team.
That was followed by a link to South Africa, the speculation there suggesting Saracens would leave the second row to join one of their Super Rugby franchises after he completed the 2021 Six Nations campaign with England.
Itoje, though, has reaffirmed he is ready to stick with his Championship-bound club. “No, nothing is in place at the moment,” he said ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final at Leinster. “My focus is I have no direct plans of going somewhere at this point in time. I have nothing really to report.”
Relegated to the second-tier due to repeated salary cap breaches, Saracens will not be allowed to play in next season’s Champions Cup even if they get past Leinster and go on to win two more knockout stage games to successfully defend the title they won in Newcastle in 2019.
Ready for the weekend ? pic.twitter.com/IaGC9UqySt
— Maro Itoje (@maroitoje) September 16, 2020
Itoje’s admission that he is sticking by Saracens in their Championship year was accompanied, however, by the soon to be 26-year-old forward admitting he will eventually ideally want a year away somewhere from Saracens before the end of his career.
“Definitely. At some stage in my life, I would love to play abroad. I have had a great life and am very privileged to play the sport that I love and experience the things that I experience.
“But experiencing a different culture, experiencing a different style, just a different vibe, I have more or less lived in north-west London for the majority of my life and it’s a lovely place to live. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in England but at the same time it will be nice and it will be great to experience something further down the line at some point.
“Do they play rugby in Barbados? I might play there,” he jested when asked which country he might like to go to. “I’m fairly open to where the future holds. I don’t really want to pigeon myself into a certain region or a place… but when the time is right I would love to spend at least a season somewhere.”
"Ultimately it’s all about caring for people. A lot of people had this ethos – and still do – to keep people keen, treat them mean. At Sarries it was the exact opposite"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 18, 2020
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