A Saracens academy product, Maro Itoje was a new member of the England squad for the 2016 Six Nations, and has since gone on to establish himself as a regular starter.
He also made three Test appearances for the British & Irish Lions against New Zealand in 2017, making a formidable impression on his first start in the second Test in Wellington.
Maro also has the distinction of scoring a try for the famous touring side in just his third match against the Maori All Blacks.
Born to Nigerian parents, he was schooled at St George’s, Harpenden, the same as England backs Owen Farrell and George Ford, before heading to sixth form at Harrow on a scholarship.
Maro represented England U17 in the shot put and was twice in Hertfordshire’s team for the national schools’ athletics championships. His cousin, Beno Obano, is a front-rower who earned his first call-up to England’s training squad in December 2017.
During his climb to the highest level, Maro 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.
Maro made his England U18 debut against Scotland at Hawick in March 2012 and he partnered Charlie Ewels in all three triumphant games as England became the European Champions in Spain.
Remarkably, he went on to score a try in every U20 Six Nations game in 2014, was the man of the match in the 48-15 win over Scotland at Galashiels and England’s Man of the Championship.
He also skippered the side in the final two games that produced a 67-7 win over Wales at Kingston Park and a 52-5 victory over Italy in Calvisano.
Greater deeds followed when he captained the team in the 21-20 victory over South Africa in the Junior World Championship final at Eden Park, Auckland in June 2014.
Maro started the 2014/15 campaign on the fringe of the Saracens side but enjoyed significant success and ended it as a Premiership title winner before lifting the trophy again in 2015/16.
He was named European Player of the Year in 2016 after picking up the man of the match in his club’s European Champions Cup final triumph over Racing 92.
A Premiership Player of the Month award had already come his way, in December 2015, and he was a travelling reserve for England in their opening match of the 2016 Six Nations against Scotland
He made his debut against Italy and started against Ireland - part of a remarkable run which saw him on the winning side in 26 out of 27 games for club and country during the 2015/16 season.
He started all three Tests in the series whitewash of Australia in June 2016.
Maro then was voted man of the match with an accomplished all-round performance in the Triple Crown victory over Wales at Twickenham before sharing in the 2017 Grand Slam win over France.
In the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, Maro started all five of England’s games and got his first try at international level in the first Test against South Africa that summer.
Maro’s try couldn’t prevent a 42-39 defeat at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, in that opening Test but the second-rower started all three games as England lost the series 2-1.
5 points - 1T
2016 It(R), I, W, F, A(1,2,3) 2017 F, W, It, S, I, A(R), Sam 2018 It, W, S, F, I, SA (1,2,3), SA, NZ, JPN, A
Lions: 2017 NZ(1R,2,3)
Last updated: 16 January 2019