May 06, 2017
Itoje named young player of the year at awards night
Having already achieved so much in his young career, Maro Itoje won the Saracens Young Player of the Year Award for the third successive season at the Big Bash annual awards night on Saturday evening.
Itoje’s performances have been sensational once again this year and it’s hard to see any let-up in a career that has seen remarkable performances from day one. The 22-year-old is already one of the first names on the team sheet for both Sarries and England and has been rewarded for continued excellence with a place on the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand.
Born on 28 October 1994, the son of Nigerian parents was educated at Salcombe Prepatory School. This was before attending St George’s Prepatory School in Harpenden, near the Saracens training ground in St Albans. He began playing rugby in 2005 and was, as he told CNN in 2017, ‘just a little boy, running around, burning off some energy and blowing off steam’. However, at that stage it will have been clear to anyone watching that the young Itoje was an exceptionally talented athlete enormous potential. In his teenage years, he attended the prestigious Harrow School, excelling across a number of sports including representation of England at U17 level in the shot-put. In addition to his rugby career, he is currently in the third year of a politics degree at the London School of Oriental and African Studies.
He joined the Saracens academy in 2012 and gained his first taste of senior rugby playing for Old Albanians on loan in the 2013/2014 season. That same season he went on to make his Saracens debut at the tender age of just 19, playing against Cardiff Blues in the LV Cup. By this stage it was evident that this would just be the start of a special career. By the end of the 2013/2014 season he was to be captaining England U20 at that year’s U20 World Cup in New Zealand. Itoje captained the Red Rose to an epic 21-20 victory over South Africa at Eden Park.
The 2014/15 season that followed proved to be a true breakthrough year for the young forward. By this point he was established as playing primarily as a lock, a role perfectly suited to his 6”6 frame. He is also capable of playing as a blindside flanker, a role he played in the 2015 Premiership final as Saracens won the title for the second time. In the double winning season of 2015/2016 he formed a formidable duo in the second-row with George Kruis. The partnership yielded a Six Nations Grand-Slam crown as well as Champions Cup and Premiership glory as part of a magnificent double winning season. Itoje was named Man of the Match in the final of the Champions Cup as well as winning European Player of the Year.
The 2016/2017 season has seen continued excellence from the youngster as he starred with England defending their Six Nations title after being named the World Rugby Breakthrough player of 2016. In addition to this, he was named alongside Sarries teammates Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola on the six-man World Player of the Year shortlist. As well as this, he’s been an integral part of Saracens’ pack once again as he helps the team pursue a successive double. He will get the chance to repeat his Lyon exploits in the Champions Cup final on 13 May in Edinburgh against Clermont; so you could say that his Young Player of the Season award might well be a deserved one…