Maro Itoje has claimed he ‘never thought about leaving Saracens’, but we wonder what he’d done if Racing 92 met his ludicorous demands 18 months ago,
With the men in black dumped into the Championship, reports were everywhere linking England’s star man with a temportary move to either France or South Africa.
“I had very little reservations in my mind about staying, I knew this was the place I wanted to be, I knew Saracens would be back competing for things,” Itoje revealed to the Telegraph.
“You only have to look at the quality of the personnel, not just the playing staff, coaches, support staff to know we would be back at some point.
“I still felt Saracens was the best place for me to continue to grow as a rugby player and as a person. I still felt Saracens was the environment where I could achieve all of my goals.
‘I still felt Saracens was the place… despite relegation and obviously no one really wants to play in the Championship, I still felt it was the right place for me to have the type of career I want to have.”
However, if Its to be believed then Itoje’s loyalty wasn’t as concrete as he claims.
The England lock, who was linked with a move to the Top 14 when Saracens were relegated, would demand a huge salary plus bonuses, according to Racing 92 owner Jacky Lorenzetti.
Asked if Itoje wanted too much money, Lorezetti told rugbyrama.fr : “Yes, it was unpayable.
“You know, we weren’t the only ones at the time: Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier were all called upon. We were talking about a salary of over £1m plus bonuses.
“That represented 10 per cent of our payroll. We made the choice not to go any further. I think he doesn’t want to move, so they come out with ridiculous demands.”
Premiership’s highest paid player each season from 1998 to 2022
Some seasons had multiple highest earners with players signing contracts at different times throughout the campaign but they’ve used the highest earner at the end of each season.
Got it? Good.
Let’s take a look at the results:
1997-1998: Va’aiga Tuigamala (Newcastle Falcons) – £80,000 per seasonEmbed from Getty Images
1999-2000: Francois Pienaar (Saracens) – £85,000 per seasonEmbed from Getty Images
2000-2001: Jason Robinson (Sale Sharks) – £180,000 per seasonEmbed from Getty Images