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Stuart Hogg's word of warning for Maro Itoje ahead of star's 'big old decision'

By Ian Cameron
Saracens' Maro Itoje during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Saracens at The Stoop on November 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Stuart Hogg has issued a warning to England second-row Maro Itoje regarding his rumoured big-money move to France’s Top 14.

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The Saracens lock is reportedly exploring a lucrative move to France, seeking a staggering £1 million deal. Lyon and Toulon are said to be among the French clubs expressing interest in the towering second-row forward, a move that could see Itoje foregoing not only the chance to represent England but also missing out on donning the iconic British & Irish Lions jersey.

The murmurs of Itoje’s French sojourn raise questions about the feasibility of such a move, with suggestions that his hefty price tag may pose a stumbling block. Sources indicate that Saracens, under the constraints of the new salary cap regulations in the Gallagher Premiership, might find it challenging to accommodate Itoje’s financial demands, especially as the league currently only permits a single marquee player.

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Adding intrigue to the mix are whispers of a potential hybrid contract with the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Reports suggest that the RFU is eyeing contracts for 25 players, a strategic move aimed at granting head coach Steve Borthwick enhanced control over key members of the England squad. The unique arrangement would see these players continuing their employment with their respective clubs while simultaneously being tethered to national team obligations.

While the prospect of Itoje donning the colours of a French club brings with it the allure of a substantial financial windfall, it raises concerns among fans and pundits alike about the impact on his international career.

Recently retired Scotland captain Stuart Hogg is one of them.

“The thing you’ve got to look at as well is that yes, financially, you’d be in a very cushty position, if he does go overseas but you’ve got to think of Lions, England caps, World Cups, all these things come into contention,” Hogg told TNT Sports. “It’s not just as easy as saying ‘I’m going to go there, I’m going to grab the money, I’m going to play rugby. He goes to France he will play every single week and he’ll miss out on England caps and potential Lions seasons. It’s not just as easy and plan sailing as all the financial things.

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“It’s a big old decision and only Maro Itoje will know what’s happening,” concluded Hogg. “It’s not exactly a bad place to be in if you think about all the things that could happen. As a rugby fan, we want to still see him playing in the Premiership.”

The lure of French rugby’s financial clout may force Itoje into a difficult decision, potentially reshaping the landscape for both club and country in the process.

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M
Morne 43 minutes ago
Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Some further observations: Most Rugby lovers I know agree that the AB’s have been the gold standard for as long as anyone can remember - very few people disagree. The odd time that any other team has some sort of ascendency - there are always those (albeit the minority) NZ supporters that need to remind us of the AB’s glorious gold standard that anyone winning them is only down to a mixture of pure luck or some or other sinister reason or bias from match officials (or indeed the Universe). For reasons mentioned above, any other team with some ascendency over the AB’s (even if it is the 1st time in 100 years) may not receive a pat on the back and a well-done - as they only did so out of pure luck. In my opinion, if the Boks were in the same realm as the AB’s SF opponents - they would have been smashed also - whether with 14 or 13 or 12 players. But remember they were just “lucky”. As a Bok supporter, I will say this team has done our proud - despite losing some games along the way. Like the AB’s, the games the boks lose are 9/10 times one score games - this is a long way from hidings like 57 - 0…And in that we must be proud. Most of these type of articles - especially those focusing on the RWC final rather conveniently leave out any mention of Pieter Steph du Toit, or even Eben Etzebeth who won all their collusions all day long. So to those very very few bad loser AB supporters out there (definitely the minority) - I’ll say what you want to hear - the AB’s are without any doubt the best Rugby brand ever. They have consistently achieved what all other teams can only dream of. And no doubt they will scale those heights again. Now what about allowing others the odd ray of sunlight that comes our way?

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