Don’t they grow up fast.
It feels like only yesterday a fresh-faced Maro Itoje was lining up for Saracens ahead of his Aviva Premiership debut in 2013.
Fast forward three years and Itoje, still only 21-years-old, has established himself as a key cog in Eddie Jones’ England side.
Despite still being relatively new to the international arena, Itoje has developed into a future captain prospect for both England and the British & Irish LIons, possessing the seemingly unerring ability to perform against any opposition he’s presented with.
But how do his first seven Tests compare to those of Rugby World Cup winner and former England/British & Irish Lions skipper Martin Johnson, who made his international debut in 1993 before going on to become a true legend of the game.
Itoje, who won both the Champions Cup and Premiership with Saracens in 2016, has had an incredible start to his international career, winning seven out of seven, as Eddie Jones men completed both a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016 as well as a whitewash 3-0 tour victory against the Wallabies down under.
Unbeatable? You’d think so, but Johnson’s introduction to the Test stage was also quite amazing.
By way of contrast, Johnson only played one test in the white of England as last minute call-up for a narrow 16-15 win against France at Twickenham, before he was called upon by Sir Ian Robert McGeechan as a replacement for Wade Dooley in the British & Irish Lions 1993 squad in New Zealand.
He then started the second Test of the series, which the Lions famously won 20-7 against the All Blacks in Wellington. The lock then experienced his first test defeat in the series decider but followed this up with a famous win against the Kiwi’s with England at Twickenham in the November internationals.
He then suffered another defeat against Ireland in the 1994 Six Nations, but that loss marked the start of an incredible run of 12 straight Test victories for Johnson.
But what does the future hold for young Itoje?!
From their similar outstanding starts, hopefully, Itoje can emulate Johnson by winning plenty British & Irish Lions and England caps before perhaps lifting a Rugby World Cup (We can hope).