Maro Itoje: Saracens lock says he can play back row for England

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Maro Itoje
Itoje has won all seven England games he has played in

Saracens forward Maro Itoje believes he can play in England's injury-depleted back row this autumn.

The lock has been a mainstay of Eddie Jones' side since making his international debut earlier this year.

But with injuries to James Haskell, Jack Clifford, Sam Jones and Mike Williams, Itoje could play as a flanker against South Africa next month.

"I have played back row for Saracens, so it's something I have done before," the 21-year-old said.

With Jones saying Chris Robshaw is best utilised as a blindside flanker, Itoje could find himself in the unfamiliar number seven shirt come the autumn internationals.

"Wherever I play I will look to be myself," Itoje added to BBC Radio 5 live. "At seven you have a bit more space, but I think it's fairly similar [to playing six]."

Itoje's director of rugby at Saracens, Mark McCall, says the player will be an asset wherever he is picked.

"Maro is capable of anything, isn't he," McCall told BBC 5 live.

"It's a tough one because he is obviously playing well in his preferred position at lock, but Eddie is spoilt for choice at lock, so it might be a case of getting his best players on to the field."

"He won't be your conventional seven, but he would be a hard-tackling, destructive back-row player," McCall added.

"He's a very, very good rugby player as everybody knows, and he is bright enough to adjust."

Meanwhile, Jones is set to attend the quarterly meeting between the Premiership directors of rugby on Thursday, where England's training methods will be on the agenda.

McCall will be among those present, but denies there are too many lingering issues following the controversial recent training camp in Brighton.

Wasps flanker Sam Jones broke his leg, Bath's Anthony Watson suffered a broken jaw, Exeter's fellow winger Jack Nowell tore a quad, while a handful of other players returned with minor knocks.

"There has been a lot of interesting conjecture about what people said and what they didn't say," McCall said.

"As a club we made our position pretty clear, which was that we would have liked the camp to have taken place at a different time.

"We have never complained about the content of the camp at all, we [just] would like to have been consulted about where in the calendar it took place.

"But it's no big deal, and we move on."

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