Maro Itoje 'worry-free' ahead of Ireland clash despite no club rugby before January 16

Invalid EmailMaro Itoje aims to become Lion King by taking inspiration from Disney's film of the same name.

The England star today takes on Irish rival James Ryan with both men high on the bookies’ shortlist to captain the Lions against the world champion Springboks next summer.

Itoje’s path to South Africa is complicated by the fact he has no top level club rugby this season - and no idea when he will even play for relegated Saracens.

Armed with that attitude, the 26-year-old will throw himself at Ireland intent on keeping England on track for a place in next month’s Nations Cup final.

“Ultimately the team that's most cohesive, gets in first and wins the big moments, gives themselves the best opportunity,” said defence coach John Mitchell.

IRELAND: Keenan; Earls, Farrell, Aki, Lowe; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; Healy, Kelleher, Porter; Roux, Ryan (capt); Stander, O'Mahony, Doris.

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