Itoje vows to return stronger from ‘most painful injury’

Maro Itoje

Maro Itoje has made 14 appearances for England

England second row Maro Itoje says his broken jaw was the most painful injury of his career, but hopes to return “stronger and quicker” than before.

Itoje suffered a double facial fracture in Saracens’ game at Harlequins at the start of December.

However the 23-year-old has made a rapid recovery and expects to make his comeback in the next couple of weeks.

“All in all it’s looking good, I’ll be back on the pitch soon,” Itoje told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“When I first broke it they told me potentially up to three months out, and now I am well within my timeframe of four to six weeks.

“I’m not quite there yet – and still have a couple of weeks to go.”

While he will now be fit for England’s Six Nations title defence, Itoje says the injury left him incapacitated at first.

“It was sore – probably my most painful injury so far,” he explained.

“My jaw ballooned, and I turned into a black Buzz Lightyear! My chin was huge – I couldn’t leave my house for a couple of days and was on blended food for a week or so, which was terrible.

“But thank God I am over that stage now, and eating a lot more normally now.”

Feeling sharp again

Itoje, whose hectic schedule in 2017 included a British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, will use the coming weeks to re-condition physically.

“I had a week of downtime after the operation to let the jaw settle a bit, and started training last week,” he said.

“I’m starting to feel sharp again, and hopefully when I come back I will be a little bit stronger and a little bit quicker, and ready to go.”

Itoje is also confident Saracens will emerge from their current slump, which has seen the double European champions lose seven games in a row in all competitions.

However a valiant 24-21 defeat in Clermont on Sunday has given cause for optimism ahead of the trip to Welford Road on Christmas Eve.

“This is probably the biggest test we have had for quite a while,” Itoje admitted.

“But in all honesty we have the quality on the pitch, great coaches and support staff, and I am very confident in the long run we will be ok, and be right back up there where we belong.

“I am confident we will rise up and show people what we are really about.”

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