Maro Itoje
Itoje will win his 50th England cap against Australia on Saturday
Venue: Twickenham, London Date: Saturday, 13 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England second row Maro Itoje says his focus on rugby has never wavered despite his status as one of the most sought-after faces of the sport.

The 27-year-old has been one of England’s most consistent performers since his debut in 2016.

He has several high-profile endorsement deals, has made a podcast and is the patron of a social enterprise.

“You have to keep the rugby the main thing, that’s always at the forefront of my mind,” he told BBC Sport.

Maro Itoje
Itoje has signed with the prestigious Roc Nation agency, has modelled for fashion label Ralph Lauren, and appeared on the front cover of Tatler magazine

“The reason why a few other companies may be interested in a certain individual is because of the rugby. If I became an awful player overnight all that eventually goes.

“I have put even more attention into making sure preparation is right and trying to be as professional as I can.

“The businesses and brands I have engaged myself with realise that the rugby is the main thing and everything has to fall in line.

“Of course you have to say not to things sometimes. You have to be strict with your time, strict with your schedule.”

England head coach Eddie Jones has warned that young players need to be similarly focused on their sport, with 22-year-old Marcus Smith, who starts at 10 against Australia on Saturday, attracting hype and attention.

Itoje has shared a room with Smith during England’s autumn training camp and is confident he won’t be distracted by off-the-field interests.

“First and foremost his talent and skill is undeniable but what I like about Marcus is his head is squarely screwed on,” Itoje added.

“He is a smart, intelligent, diligent young rugby player. If he keeps doing what he is doing, if he keeps the same attitude and intent to his profession, he will be absolutely fine.

“From what I have seen I have no worries about him not doing that.”

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