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