October 31, 2017 / 10:26 AM / in a year

Itoje eager to play in England's autumn internationals

(Reuters) - England lock Maro Itoje is keen to play in the autumn internationals, but will understand if coach Eddie Jones decides to rest him after being involved in the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand this year.

Rugby Union - British & Irish Lions Training & Press Conference - Carton House, Co. Kildare, Ireland - 22/5/17 British & Irish Lions Maro Itoje during training Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne Livepic

Itoje played in all three tests against the All Blacks and has started eight of his club Saracens’ nine games this season.

“I’m expecting to play and we’ll see what happens,” he told the British media. “The body is good and I’m still relatively young.

“These decisions are not made to spite me. If a decision is made to rest me, then it will have been made for the long-term future.

“But I often find it’s the occasions when I’m rested or not playing for whatever reason, you realise how much you enjoy playing, how much you want to play.”

Itoje was not expected to play in Saracens’ English Premiership season opener against Northampton but was drafted in because of injury problems in the back row.

He was not rested till Saturday’s win over London Irish, but the 23-year-old is relishing his time on the field.

“Saracens have been very good to me, so whenever I can help them I will even if it cuts my holiday short a little bit,” he added.

“I’m doing my own extra bit of recovery. I am spending a bit more time in the pool. I make sure I have my pool recovery before every game, which is something that I didn’t do last year.”

England are training in Portugal this week ahead of the test against Argentina on Nov. 11.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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