Maro Itoje has laid down the gauntlet to all Saracens’ rivals, claiming in an atmospheric 107-second club social media video that the impending season in the Championship is the perfect year for the Londoners to mould stars of the future and return to the Premiership stronger than ever.     

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Following a daily drip-feed of contract extensions this past week featuring the likes of Sean Maitland, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell, the final piece of the Saracens jigsaw puzzle was supplied by Itoje with his Friday confirmation that he too is committed to their season in the Championship and for the long haul after that.    

After Saracens were automatically relegated to the second tier for repeated salary cap breaches, Itoje’s future was subject to much speculation in recent months. 

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There were links to Racing 92, Leicester and even this week a suggestion that he could spend some of 2021 in South Africa playing for one of their clubs ahead of next July’s Lions tour. 

However, all that gave way to Saracens announcing that Itoje is onboard with them for their 2020/21 campaign, an adventure the England talisman believes could do wonders for the club. 

In a voiceover accompanying the moody Saracens video, Itoje declared: “I’m massively excited to be a part of this club. I have been part of Saracens since I was 14 years old. I can see myself being here for a little while longer, so I want to make the most of this opportunity. 

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“The club is a great place to be. The negativity is old news, I’m really looking forward to the future. The future is going to be brighter than our past. We have the foundations in place to make that happen. We have the players, we have the talent, we have the coaches so the future is in our hands and we have the power to shape our own destiny. 

“It’s always been the case at Saracens that they have always focused on the youth and have a strong academy system. This Championship year is a perfect year for them and I can’t wait to help them along their way. 

“We have players who are hungry, hungry to achieve. We have been successful but we are not resting on our laurels. We want to push on, we want to succeed, we want to do amazing things. 

“The process has started already, we’re putting in the work. Day by day we’re going to look to get better and improve. The culture at Saracens is second to none – that is evident for everyone to see. 

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“The excitement of this group is massive to firstly finishing off this season and finishing off well. But then going to the Championship and rebuild, focus on the fundamentals and come back and hopefully be stronger than ever.”

Saracens restart their suspended 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership campaign with a visit to Bristol on August 15, the first of their nine remaining league fixtures before they make the enforced drop to the Championship. 

However, all eyes will be on their September 19 visit to Dublin to face Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, a head-to-head that is a repeat of the final won by Saracens in Newcastle in May 2019. 

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