Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall believes Maro Itoje has his sights set on a place in Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions touring squad to New Zealand next summer.
Itoje was absent from England’s recent Tests against Australia, South Africa, Fiji and Argentina with a broken hand, but is likely to be involved in England’s defence of their 6 Nations Grand Slam crown in early next year.
That, and should Saracens as expected reach the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup, will provide Itoje the perfect chance to impress Gatland ahead of his squad selection.
If he is picked for the tour of New Zealand, he will emulate Saracens teammate Owen Farrell who went on the 2013 tour of Australia at the age of 22.
“Owen Farrell at the same age had the same drive and the same single-mindedness and the same focus,” McCall told the Telegraph.
“[Farrell and Itoje play in] different positions but are similar kinds of characters in that respect – different in other respects so there are people who have been like him but it has happened really fast for him and everyone thinks the improvement will stop but he doesn’t look like he is going to stop.
“I don’t see him stopping. He also has goals of his own – the Lions tour at the end of the summer, I am sure he won’t talk about that, he will want to get back in the England squad because he missed the autumn internationals.
“That is going to be his drive but all of those goals, Maro is a very ambitious young man and his drive will be to get on that Lions tour.”
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