By Press Association
Last Updated: 12/01/18 10:32pm
Maro Itoje has big hopes for Saracens on the European stage
Maro Itoje may still be struggling to eat steak but he insists his broken jaw will not prevent him from firing Saracens to a European Champions Cup victory over Ospreys on Saturday.
Sarries know defeat at the Liberty Stadium will all-but end their hopes of progress from Pool Two and their bid to win a third consecutive European crown.
Second row Itoje had to undergo surgery after fracturing his jaw playing for Saracens against Harlequins on December 3, but was back within a month, making his first appearance in the Aviva Premiership against Wasps last weekend.
“The jaw is absolutely fine, it feels good,” Itoje said ahead of this weekend’s Ospreys clash.
“Throughout the game against Wasps, I didn’t even think about it.”
Itoje has two plates inserted down the side of his jaw and another two in his chin, each fixed with pins.
He says he can still feel some pain when moving his jaw from side to side but otherwise it causes him no discomfort.
Maro Itoje returned to action ahead of time after breaking his jaw
“I tried steak maybe two weeks after breaking it,” Itoje said.
“It was like chewing a mixture of toffee and chewing gum. It just wouldn’t go. Besides that my eating is fine. It still feels a bit funny eating on my left side, I think the nerve is still kicking in. But it’s fine. I can eat anything now.”
Itoje’s return could not have been more timely. Saracens trail Ospreys by two points in the group with two games left and a win will see them jump above their opponents, with Northampton to come last at home.
“The next two weeks are big for the club, it basically sets up our European destiny,” Itoje added.
“It is a tricky place to go and I have been there once before, in the LV Cup, and it was windy, wet, muddy, similar to what it will be on Saturday, and they really fought us hard. I can imagine it will be the same.
“I’ve got to know a few of their players so know how they will approach this game as well as from how they played at Allianz Park, what kind of team they are. It’s going to be a tough game but if we play well, we’ll be alright.”
Director of rugby Mark McCall has said Liam Williams is likely to be passed fit after overcoming a groin and hernia problem. Duncan Taylor, however, is out. He has another head injury.