'Concrete interest' - Premiership club could offer Maro Itoje England lifeline - Ruck

‘Concrete interest’ – Premiership club could offer Maro Itoje England lifeline

Maro Itoje’s tenure at Saracens faces a precarious future, with emerging reports indicating that he may need to accept a substantial 50% reduction in his payout to extend his stay with the Premiership club.

The 29-year-old English lock, currently among the highest-paid players in the country with an annual salary of approximately £800,000, has been presented with a contract extension offer from Saracens ranging between £400,000 and £425,000 per year.

As contract negotiations loom for Owen Farrell this summer, he is poised to retain the coveted ‘marquee’ category at Saracens, allowing him to receive compensation beyond the salary cap. However, this adjustment means Itoje’s earnings must align with the overall spending limit mandated across the top division.

Speculations have surfaced, suggesting that Lyon, Racing 92, Toulon, and Bristol Bears have expressed interest in acquiring the services of the England forward.

Sources from RUCK indicate that Bristol Bears, who recently bid farewell to major stars Semi Radradra and Charles Piutau at the end of the last season, anticipate losing Kyle Sinckler next summer, thereby freeing up a “significant budget.”

Despite this, matching Itoje’s current wages of around £800,000 may prove to be a formidable challenge for the Bears.

“It’s a calculation that every player has to make, who’s faced with that decision and every situation is different,” he tells Mail Sport.

“No two players’ circumstances are the same and each person has their own reasons for going abroad.”

“Obviously, there are benefits to going abroad. There are benefits to staying in England as well.

“It’s just about making that judgment based on the unique set of circumstances that each player is faced with.

“You always have to make calculations in life. Hopefully I make the right one.”

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Greatest rugby union XV of all-time:

15. Serge Blanco (France) 

The French icon’s international career with France saw the flamboyant fullback perform various outlandish levels of skill while winning Five Nation Grand Slams in 1981 and 1987 as well as four further titles.

Blanco was a threat from everywhere on the field and often took risks that we very rarely see nowadays. In total, he won 93 caps for France during his 11-year international career between 1980 and 1991, which was a record when he retired.

He also scored an imposing 233 points and is a true legend of the sport.

Did you know: Images of Blanco’s on-field heroics can always be viewed ironically alongside images of him strutting along the touchline nursing a cigarette.

Honourable mentions: JPR Williams (Wales), Jason Robinson (England), Percy Montgomery (South Africa)


14. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

The New Zealander remains the joint all-time top try scorer at the Rugby World Cup along with Bryan Habana, crossing the whitewash on 15 different occasions across the 1995 and 1999 tournaments.

The easiest selection in a greatest ever XV.

Originally of Tongan descent, it was Lomu who made it glamorous to be a big, bruising winger, even though his stature could have easily seen him fill in at centre or somewhere in the pack.

Much like the Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe, there wasn’t much that could stop Lomu once he’d gotten into a stride.

Did you know: In September 2009, Lomu took part in an amateur bodybuilding contest, finishing second in two categories
Honourable mentions: Bryan Habana (South Africa), Doug Howlett (New Zealand), Shane Williams (Wales)

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) 

The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions Skipper Brian O’Driscoll was one of the most consistent performers in the world for over a decade.

He hung up his boots in 2014 after accumulating 133 caps for Ireland with a fantastic return of 245 points. In the emerald green, he triumphed in the Six Nations in 2009 (Grand Slam) and 2014 as well as being chosen as Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The Dublin-born is also the highest all-time Irish record try scorer with an incredible 46 scores, and also led his country more times than any other player.

Did you know: O’Driscoll was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships.

Honourable mentions: Jeremy Guscott (England), Will Greenwood (England), Frank Bunce (New Zealand)