Maro Itoje hopeful of being fit for England’s Six Nations opener

Saracens forward Maro Itoje, who broke his jaw in two places, has given England a major boost by saying he expects to be fit for the Six Nations opener against Italy

Maro Itoje says he expects to be fit for England’s Six Nations opener against Italy, after battling back from breaking his jaw in two places.

The Saracens forward suffered the injury playing in an Aviva Premiership match against Harlequins in December.

He returned to action against Wasps at the beginning of January and he now feels confident to play for England again.

Speaking at England’s warm-weather training camp in Portugal, Itoje told Sky Sports News: “Truly and honestly there are two things that I am focusing on. The first thing is getting my body right to be able to participate.

“The second thing is helping the team to best prepare to play Italy. These are the only two things in my head that I want to get right for the next two weeks.

When pushed on whether he thought he would be fit to face Italy, the 23-year-old replied: “I think so.”

Itoje is one of a number of players from the participating countries who have had injury problems in the build up to the Six Nations.

Maro Itoje, who expects to be fit for England's Six Nations campaign after battling back from breaking his jaw in two places, says injuries are part and parcel of rugby

England appear to be the worst hit with as many as 18 players missing, but Itoje says that is just part of the game.

“Well I think that’s just rugby you know, it’s a physical sport and you are likely to get injured,” he added. “We don’t want to change any of that although you don’t want to get injured but it’s the nature of the beast.

“Luckily my jaw is good now, it’s strong, I’ve got four metal bars in it making the jaw nice and strong. I’ve got a strong bite now and the jaw is good.”

England beat Italy 36-15 at Twickenham last February and Itoje, who is preparing for his third Six Nations, remembers the hosts having a tough match.

“All our focus is on Italy,” he said. “Italy are a tricky team, they are a very niggly team to play against.

“We probably didn’t do as well as we wanted to against them last year, so this is an opportunity to put things right in our own game.

“We are fully focused on Italy, they have a lot of strengths that we need to counteract and deal with.”