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Maro Itoje has pledged his commitment to England until the 2027 Rugby World Cup, calling it a "drug" that he cannot resist.
Rugby union Sport

Maro Itoje has pledged his commitment to England until the 2027 Rugby World Cup, calling it a “drug” that he cannot resist.

Maro Itoje’s commitment to playing for England until the next Rugby World Cup is a much-needed positive for English rugby. Unlike his Saracens teammate Owen Farrell, Itoje has no plans to play overseas and is determined to remain a key player in the national team for at least four more years.

The 29-year-old lock forward has received offers to join the increasing number of English players in France, but he has chosen to remain and be eligible for both the 2025 British & Irish Lions tour and the 2027 World Cup in Australia.

“I at least want to participate in the next World Cup,” said Itoje during England’s training camp in Costa Brava.

“I aspire to join the Lions team and position myself for selection. These opportunities should not be overlooked. Participating in the previous World Cup was an incredible experience. The enthusiasm of the supporters, the energy in the air, the hype and thrill were all intoxicating. It’s a feeling that is difficult to resist. I would be thrilled to have the chance to experience it again.”

Itoje’s declaration of commitment to the England rugby team is good news for the Rugby Football Union, who are seeking to secure top players with new hybrid contracts. When at his peak, the influential Lions player is still a top performer in the second row and could be a key player in helping head coach Steve Borthwick rebuild England’s forward pack.

Itoje has recently shaved his head and is determined to make the most out of the prime years of his career. He also states that he now understands the significance of representing England more than ever before.

Playing for the English national team has always been my ultimate dream and goal. It presents the greatest opportunity for me to showcase my talents, express myself fully, and tap into my competitive drive.

While singing the national anthem, I take a moment to observe my surroundings and reflect on how unique and rare this experience is. If I were to retire from playing for England, a part of me would feel empty.

Itoje, with 76 appearances and a recently earned MBA, is eager to help lead an English revival. He will begin by playing against Italy in Rome next Saturday.

Maro Itoje carries the ball for the British & Irish Lions against South Africa in 2021.View image in fullscreen

“As someone who is 29 years old, I have gained some valuable experience. The past few Six Nations have not gone as well as we had hoped. Our main goal is to propel the team forward and I am eager to contribute to that. I am looking forward to making new memories and being a part of a fresh journey.”

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Although his sharp new haircut, pearl earring, and unique fashion sense attempted to distract from the absence of Farrell, it could not overpower the fact that he has been a key factor in the competitive atmosphere of the England team for many years. He explained that he wanted to start the new year and new chapter with a fresh look, combining Afro 90s fusion with a modern touch. However, his absence was still noticeable.

Itoje understands that Farrell’s departure will create a void for both his club and country. He acknowledges that Farrell has left a remarkable impact that few others can measure up to, and this will require a period of adaptation.

I have collaborated and socialized with Owen throughout my entire professional journey, but this is the first time he is not present at camp. He possesses a distinct form of leadership that he executes excellently. It is to be expected that there will be some variation with a new captain and a shift in the team composition.

The England team is currently waiting for the results of Ollie Lawrence’s hip scan, which will determine the length of time he will be out of play. Lawrence, a player for Bath, had to withdraw from the team preparing for the Italy match.

It is uncertain if Luke Cowan-Dickie will be included in the upcoming Six Nations tournament. The Sale hooker did not travel to Spain due to a medical issue unrelated to the neck injury that prevented him from participating in the 2023 World Cup. Both players will not be playing in the first game against Italy at Stadio Olimpico.

Source: theguardian.com