The name Oghenemaro Itoje does not sound too familiar to many rugby enthusiasts, yet, when it’s shortened to Maro Itoje, every England Rugby fan has words of praise for the latest English rugby superstar.
The lock forward weighs in at a solid 115 KG, with his height being a whopping 1.95m. The presence of Itoje in The English forward’s has allowed it to find its backbone, where Itoje leads the pack. After a disappointing 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, England Rugby is currently in its rebuilding phase.
Will Maro Itoje’s leadership qualities be the solution to bring the glory back to England Rugby?
Maro Itoje’s Upbringing and Early Life:
Born to Nigerian parents in Camden, London, Maro Itoje was awarded a bursary to Harrow Independent School For Boys, where he excelled in most parts of his school career. Asides from Rugby Union, Itoje also received junior England colours for Basketball and Shot Put. He also succeeded in cultural activities, such as poetry and choir singing.
His former Head of Sport at Harrow, Jesse Coulson, recalls Maro Itoje as, “inspirational to the other boys because he always strived to be the best he could be academically but also to be a top athlete. That combination is quite rare these days.”
Early Rugby Success:
Maro Itoje represented England Rugby in their Under 18 team in the 2013/14 season. In 2014, he captained England’s Under 20 team to a consecutive Junior Rugby World Cup title. Itoje later played for the England Saxons side, and in 2016, received his call up at the young age of 21 years old to the national side under new coach, Eddie Jones.
Since then, Itoje has never failed to impress when he runs on the rugby field. In his very first season, Maro Itoje played an instrumental part in England’s unbeaten season, which also included a grand-slam 6 Nations triumph.
British & Irish Lions 2017 Tour:
In what was Maro Itjoe’s second season playing international rugby, he received a call up to be a part of Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand in 2017. At just 22 years old, Maro Itoje was the youngest player in the British & Irish Lions squad.
With his youth and test rugby experience behind him, Itoje played an instrumental role in the tour, playing all three tests against New Zealand, ultimately ending the series with a draw. In addition, he mastered the enforcer role for The Lions victory against The New Zealand Maori side.
Rugby Achievements To Date:
2014-15 LV Cup Champions
2014–15 English Premiership Champions
2015–16 English Premiership Champions
2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup Champions
2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup Champions
2017–18 English Premiership Champions
2018-19 English Premiership Champions
2018-19 European Rugby Champions Cup Champions
2014 IRB Junior World Championship Champions
2016 Six Nations Championship Champions (grand-slam)
2017 Six Nations Championship Champions
Currently, at the age of 25, Maro Itoje has impressed the rugby world in only four years of playing international rugby for England; not without an impressive portfolio of victories.
Maro Itoje is a unique quality lock forward or back-row. His physicality is comparable to the likes of fellow countrymen: Lawrence Dallaglio and former World Cup-winning Captain, Martin Johnson. His strength makes him one of the fearest players at the breakdown, along with his impeccable lineout form, we can all agree Maro Itoje is the complete player with very rare weaknesses in his game attributes.
The most captivating attribute Maro Itoje displays are his leadership qualities, where I firmly believe he’ll become the future captain for England. As The British & Irish Lions Tour is scheduled for next year, we undoubtedly expect Itoje to be starting for The Lions in their three-match test series.
Will Maro Itoje be given the honour of leading the Lions at such a young age? With other great leaders in The Lions squad, it’s important to acknowledge that The Lions two previous visits have always named a lock forward as their tour captain.
Will this be the ideal opportunity for Rugby Union to have two black captains for the prolific British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa in 2021?
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