England star Maro Itoje is on the verge of committing his immediate future to Saracens despite their relegation to the Championship, according to reports.
Itoje, who had been linked with Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers, was expected to depart Allianz Park on loan after Sarries were relegated for salary cap breaches.
Talks with the Top 14 club broke down amid complications around England availability while Tigers boss Geordan Murphy denied they’d made a move for the 25-year-old.
The Mail on Sunday has then reported this morning that the second-row is now likely to honour his deal with Saracens, where he is under contract until 2022.
Itoje is favourite to captain the Lions in South Africa next year after being singled out by Warren Gatland last week.
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The six-week tour could be shifted to a window between September and November, if plans for a global season are voted through at a forum tomorrow.
The lock, who is equally at home on the flank, is one of a number of success stories from the Saracens Academy, stepping up to the first team for his debut in January 2013 in the LV= Cup.
Since then he has captained the club to the Anglo-Welsh Cup and developed into a world class option with astounding physicality and defensive attributes.
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The four-time Premiership winner and three-time European champion’s international CV also makes for impressive reading. ‘The Pearl’ guided England U20 to their second-ever World Rugby Championship title before gaining a full cap in the 2016 Six Nations where Eddie Jones’ side were crowned Grand Slam champions.
He followed up with three Test starts on England’s victorious summer tour of Australia and another Six Nations gong before becoming a British & Irish Lion in 2017.
Itoje was named European Player of the Year and Land Rover Discovery of the Season in 2016 as well as man of the match in Saracens’ maiden European Cup success.
The full list of who’s going & who’s staying at Saracens
Here’s our changing list of stayers, loaners, likely leavers and confirmed departures at Saracens.
- Owen Farrell
- Maro Itoje
- Elliot Daly
- Jamie George
- Billy Vunipola
- Mako Vunipola
- Jackson Wray
- Joel Kpoku
- Sean Maitland
- Ali Crossdale
- Vincent Koch