At just 26, Maro Itoje is one of the first names on the team sheet for both club (Saracens) and country (England); he’s even a nailed-on starter for that precious pinnacle of northern hemisphere rugby: the British and Irish Lions

Having recently signed with Under Armour – a partnership that will see UA donate £1 million of performance sports apparel to KIT US OUT – Itoje is also leading the way off the field: one of the few rugby players who truly transcend the sport. 

MF grabbed 15 minutes with Itoje at the end of UA’s ISO-CHILL product launch.

Here’s what he had to say…

15 Minutes With... Rugby Star Maro Itoje | Men's Fitness UK

With fitness it’s all about how you package it.

At times it might not be the most fun thing to do in the world, but it’s necessary to play and perform at a certain level.

If I wasn’t a rugby player, I wouldn’t have been exposed to this type of training, so I would train in a slightly different way. But if I were to stop being a rugby player today, there are definitely a lot of aspects I would keep up – and maybe some I wouldn’t!

We’re always exposed to new ways of conditioning, and different training stimuluses.

But the core fundamentals of strength and conditioning hasn’t really changed for quite a while.

You still need your solid compound lifts, and you need to load your legs and load your back for strength and injury prevention.

Trap bar deadlifts are my go-to.

The trap bar [also known as a hex bar] takes the load off the back a bit, but still allows you to get the work in.

A standard lower-body session would be:

  • 5 x 5 on the trap bar
  • Some weighted concentric jumps
  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Maybe a prowler sled finisher

RELATED: How to Use the Prowler Sled in the Gym

I try to eat little and often, rather than having massive meals.

But it’s really just about having a balanced diet.

Obviously you need to get your protein in, your greens in, and a necessary amount of carbs.

And just make sure you don’t overindulge too often – which can be easier said than done.

I want to be a very, very, very successful rugby player.

I want to win. I want to be part of teams that are dominant and always competing for trophies.

I want to experience the highs that rugby can give me.

Competition, passion, and the ability to get better are what really motivate me.

15 Minutes With... Rugby Star Maro Itoje | Men's Fitness UK

Itoje celebrates following the Lions’ 24-21 victory over New Zealand in the second test, 2017 | Photography: David Rogers/Getty Images