A product of Saracens Academy, Maro Itoje was a new member of the England Elite squad for the 2016 RBS6 Nations Championship, having made a rapid rise to prominence and has since won 12 Test caps and three for the British & Irish Lions against New Zealand this summer at Auckland, Wellington where he made a formidable impression on his first start and Eden Park. He also had the distinction of scoring a try for the tourists in his third match, against the Maori All Blacks.
During his climb to the highest level, he represented England U17, captained both Harpenden RFC and St George’s VA School in his age group and played for Hertfordshire U14, U15 and U16 during his elevation towards top level. Remarkably, he went on to score a try in every U20 Six Nations game in 2014, was the BMW Man of the Match in the 48-15 win over Scotland at Galashiels and England’s BMW Man of the Tournament. Maro also led the side in the final two games that produced a 67-7 win over Wales at Kingston Park, Newcastle and a 52-5 victory over Italy at Calvisano.
Greater deeds followed when he captained the team in the 21-20 victory over South Africa in the IRB Junior World Championship final at Eden Park, Auckland in June 2014. Camden-born, he played in ten matches for England U20 that year, having taken up the game at St George’s when he was 11. Making his England Saxons debut against Ireland Wolfhounds in January 2015 seemed a distant target at that time but he produced an impressive cameo performance off the bench in an 18-9 victory at Cork.
He started the 2014/15 campaign on the fringe of the Saracens side but enjoyed significant success and ended it as a Premiership title winner, as he also did last season. His remarkable 2015/16 run involved being on the winning side in 26 out of 27 games for club and country, including the final 17 in a row. He swiftly added three more when starting all three Tests in the series whitewash of Australia last summer and playing an essential part in an England back five that were crucial in the success. His maturity belies his age. He missed the Old Mutual Wealth Series last autumn after fracturing his right hand in the Champions Cup match against the Scarlets in October. When returning against France four months later, he wore the No.6 shirt in the absence through injury of Chris Robshaw and made an important contribution at the lineout in the game’s crucial final stages.
Maro has become the Premiership Player of the Month in December 2015, was a travelling reserve for England at the Scotland match, made a highly-promising debut against Italy in the next game before starting against Ireland. He then became the RBS Man of the Match with an accomplished all-round performance in the Triple Crown victory over Wales at Twickenham before sharing in the Grand Slam win over France. He then became the European Player of the Year, the Land Rover Discovery of the 2015/16 season and Man of the Match in the European Champions Cup triumph over Racing 92. He has played in 45 Premiership games and scored two tries.
Maro appeared for London & SE U16 and played for England U18 in the 54-5 win over London Academies on his own school ground. He then started four competitive matches for the side, dating back to his debut against Scotland at Hawick in March 2012 and partnered Charlie Ewels in all three triumphant games as England became the European champions in Spain. He has also toured Wales with Saracens Academy U18, having travelled to Ireland with Harpenden U14. He led England U20 to a 21-20 victory in the 2014 World Rugby Championship over South Africa at Eden Park on his tenth and final appearance for the side.
Born to Nigerian parents, he was schooled at St George’s, Harpenden, the same as England backs Owen Farrell and George Ford. Maro went into the sixth form at Harrow on a scholarship and is now reading for a Politics degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
He was initially educated at Salcombe Prep School in Enfield and in Harpenden and his mentors include Steve Robins and Andrew Bennett while his Harpenden coach Stuart Mitchell offered valuable advice on and off the field.
He said: “Matt Davies at Saracens has improved my game massively and it has also been great working with Richard Hill (the former England flanker now the team manager). I have learned a lot from his knowledge and experience.” Maro has also played basketball, represented England U17 in the shot put and twice been in Hertfordshire’s team for the national schools’ athletics championships. His cousin Beno Obano, a prop, is a member of the London Wasps Academy.
His favourite players are Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes, Imanol Harinordoquy, Thierry Dusautoir and Jonah Lomu and Maro’s special thanks go to Jessie Coulson, the director of sport at Harrow who, he says, “has helped me a lot".
2016 It(R), I, W, F, A(1,2,3) 2017 F, W, It, S, I
Lions: 2017 NZ(1R,2,3)
Last updated: 13 July 2017