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England boss hails Maro Itoje after Saracens’ record fightback against Bath

16:45 03 February 2016

Saracens' Maro Itoje (right) tries to barge his way past Bath's Horacio Agulla at Allianz Park on Saturday

Saracens' Maro Itoje (right) tries to barge his way past Bath's Horacio Agulla at Allianz Park on Saturday

Archant

England coach Eddie Jones believes Maro Itoje delivered his best performance for Saracens in Saturday’s record fightback against Bath.

But he is in no hurry to select the 21-year-old as the Red Rose prepare to take on Scotland in their opening Six Nations clash in Edinburgh this weekend.

Itoje was named the man of the match as Premiership leaders Saracens overturned a 13-0 half-time deficit to beat Bath 19-13 – their biggest ever comeback in the league.

Jones, who will name his team to face Scotland today (Thursday), is sure the lock has a bright future – but he is taking a long-term approach to his England career, and Itoje is currently not in his 23-man squad for Saturday’s international showdown at Murrayfield.

“I went to Saracens – I hid in the stands – and it was the best game I’ve seen Itoje play for them,” said Jones. “It was really good, very impressive.

“It’s never too late to get in the 23. The 23 isn’t set in stone, but generally speaking the 23 that we kept are the front runners.

“Remember that my job is to make Test rugby players. There’s a step from club rugby to Test rugby here, as there is in every country. There are subtle but strong differences between a good club player and a good Test player.

“I want Maro to be a 60-Test player. I don’t want him to be a 10 or 20-Test player. Sixty-Test players start their career well and build on that.

“Some players you can expose too late, some too early. My gut feeling on Maro is that he’s definitely progressing, but he needs just a little more time - and if he’s going to play 60 Tests for England we can wait because that would mean he’s a bloody good player and that’s what I think he will be.”

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