Maro Itoje hints he could move abroad at the end of his Saracens contract - Ruck

Maro Itoje hints he could move abroad at the end of his Saracens contract

Maro Itoje has not ruled out the possibility of leaving Saracens to play overseas, increasing the pressure on Premiership Rugby to address the growing trend of English players moving abroad.

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Itoje, a five-time Premiership winner who recently signed a new long-term contract, has made 175 appearances for Saracens since his debut in 2013.

The club faced a tough choice between keeping Itoje or Owen Farrell, as each team is allowed only one marquee player starting next season.

This decision was made easier when Owen Farrell chose to join Racing 92 after retiring from international rugby post-Rugby World Cup.

Despite his strong affinity for Saracens, Itoje acknowledged that he might follow Farrell overseas in the future.

Maro Itoje of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“Well, I think first and foremost I love playing for Saracens, I love Saracens, and in an ideal world I would love to spend the majority if not the rest of my career at Saracens,” said Itoje.

“Saracens is a club that I have loved being a part of, I want to stay here, I want to stay in England, I want to stay playing my rugby in England. And I think that’s good for the game, it’s good for the game to have English players in England.

“It’s good for the game to have a situation where the Premiership is thriving, English players are in England, the clubs have their English players. I think that’s a situation where all parties win.

“But, unfortunately, at the moment, we have the situation where it’s not, for numerous reasons. There are a number of regulations and requirements that are making it more and more difficult for English players to stay in England.”


In his remarkable lineup, Owens features three Welsh luminaries – Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams, and Gethin Jenkins. Additionally, he acknowledges the contributions of Lee Byrne, Dwayne Peel, and Leigh Halfpenny to the sport.

Notably, a striking facet of Owens’ chosen players is their collective leadership qualities, with the majority of the selected individuals having served as captains for their respective nations.

Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”