Still time for rising star Itoje to grab World Cup spot, says Farrell

 
Frank Dalleres
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Forward Maro Itoje, 20, has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign for Saracens this year
ENGLAND backs coach Andy Farrell insists there is still time for the likes of Saracens lock Maro Itoje to gatecrash the squad for this year’s home Rugby World Cup.

Itoje, 20, conjured the latest eye-catching performance of a breakthrough season in Sarries’ narrow European Champions Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne on Saturday. He and Exeter’s Henry Slade are among those hoping to force their way into contention for the September tournament by being named in a 45-man England training squad next month.

“Maro would be a prime example of those fortunate that their club will be there and thereabouts in the big games at the end of the season,” said Farrell.

“People think you’d know round about now what your squad would be, and of course we have a good idea of what that would look like, but we’re also very open-minded and we always have been.

“Youngsters like Maro and Henry that are shining through, it’s because they have characters strong enough to deal with top-level rugby.”