Itoje urges Saracens to not rest on their laurels
PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 June 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
England international was named man of the match as Allianz Park club completed added domestic title to Heineken Champions Cup crown
Maro Itoje believes next season may be even tougher for Saracens after they completed a second Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup double in the last four terms.
After winning a third European crown in Newcastle last month, the north Londoners beat Exeter Chiefs 37-34 at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday to retain their domestic title.
It has been another splendid season for Sarries, who have now won five Premiership titles and eight major trophies since director of rugby Mark McCall took charge in 2011.
Few would bet against the Allianz Park club adding to that trophy haul next term, but forward Itoje is aware Saracens face another gruelling campaign next term.
"Every year it gets harder and harder," said the England international.
"From an emotional and physical point of view from previous seasons, it makes it harder for us because every time you achieve success you almost set a benchmark for yourselves.
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"Whenever you fail to reach that standard you set for yourselves, it's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so every year it gets harder.
"Next year obviously will be harder because other teams will get better so we have to make sure we keep on improving."
Against Exeter at the weekend, Itoje was in sublime form as he helped Saracens edge a thrilling Premiership final to retain their title.
The north Londoners had to come from behind to triumph, having trailed 22-16 at the break despite unconverted tries from Jamie George and Ben Spencer in addition to two Owen Farrell penalties.
Sarries were 11 points back at one stage in the second half, but rallied as tries from Liam Williams, Sean Maitland and George, all of which Farrell converted, saw them storm back to triumph.
Despite not crossing the whitewash, Itoje was named man of the match for his efforts, but admits he was taken aback by being handed the personal honour.
He added: "I was quite surprised to get because there were a lot of other players who probably deserved it. I don't know who gave it to me, but I have to thank him!
"That was the best Exeter team I've played against. They really brought it to us, but we had strength and depth to see it through."
*Additional reporting by Ziad Chaudry.