Experienced Saracens and England secondrow Maro Itoje has given English Rugby a significant boost by verbalising his commitment to English Rugby for the foreseeable future.
“I want to, at a bare minimum, do the next World Cup. I want to play for the Lions, put myself in position to be selected there. Those opportunities are ones you really can’t take for granted.
“Being at this last World Cup was an amazing experience. The passion of the fans, that atmosphere, the buzz, excitement – it’s a drug that it’s hard to stay away from, so I would love the opportunity to do that again.”
Speaking on his passion of playing for his country, the 29-year-old said he felt that he still had plenty to offer the jersey and remained committed to testing himself at the highest level.
“Playing at the highest level for England…it’s the greatest opportunity for me to shine.
“To fully express myself and express my competitive juices. As I sing the national anthem, I look around and I think to myself ‘wow, this is special, not many people get to experience this in the way that I’m experiencing this’.
“Given my ripe age of 29, I have a bit of experience now. We know the last couple of Six Nations have not really been what we wanted them to be. The whole thing is to push the team forward and I definitely want to play a role in that. You want to create new memories and be part of a new journey.”
Speaking about the departure of his long-time teammate and captain Owen Farrell from the England set-up, Itoje said, “He’s left an impressive legacy that not many individuals can match” – and country which will necessitate a period of readjustment.
“I have worked and played with Owen for my whole career and this is the first camp when he hasn’t been around. He has his own unique style of leadership and he does that very well. I guess it’s inevitable with the change of captain and the changing of the squad that it will just be a little bit different.”
Itoje and his England teammates will begin their 2024 Guinness Six Nations campaign in Rome against Italy on February 3rd.