Despite many casting Saracens as the villains of the Premiership, England second row Maro Itoje claims the club’s culture is ‘second to none’. Their dramatic fall from grace had rivals branding the North London side cheats, but the British and Irish Lion, who committed his future to Saracens this week, is confident that the club’s future is “brighter” than its past.

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At the start of the year, Saracens were automatically relegated to the RFU Championship, following on from a £5 million plus fine and a 35 point reduction after it was found they had breached the Premiership salary cap. Yet Itoje maintains that it is culture that sets the team apart.

He told the club website: “The culture at Saracens is second to none and I think that’s evident for everyone to see. The excitement of this group is massive.

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“I’m really looking forward to the future; the future is going to be brighter than our past. I think we have the foundations in place to make that happen.

“We have the players, we have talent, we have the coaches, we have the support from the backroom staff so the future is in our hands and we have the power to shape our own destiny.”

The club are looking to bounce back into the Gallagher Premiership after a year in the RFU Championship, and will attempt the feat with the vast majority of their first-team squad.

Itoje said: “One thing I know about Saracens is the calibre of players, if you look around our dressing room, we have players who are hungry to achieve.

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“We’ve been successful but we’re not resting on our laurels. We want to push on, we want to achieve amazing things and to do that we have to put in the work day by day. The process has started already and day by day we’re going to work to get better and improve.”

“It’s always been the case at Saracens that they’ve focused on youth and had a strong Academy system.” said the 25-year-old. “If you look at the first team now there’s a number of guys who have graduated through the Academy. This Championship year is the perfect year for them and I can’t wait to help them along their way.

“We’re really excited to firstly off this season well and in Europe as well before going on to the Championship, rebuild, focus on the fundamentals and come back and hopefully be stronger than ever.”

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