The two men may well line up alongside each other for the next Lions tour but Itoje will not ‘waste time’ by focusing on his rival
Even if Maro Itoje and James Ryan did not play international rugby in the same position the pair would have a lot in common. In addition to being the forward totems of their respective nations they have both studied politics at university and share a strong sense of cultural history, with Itoje particularly fascinated by Nigeria’s past and Ryan’s great-grandfather having been involved in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Next summer it is quite possible the two men will have plenty of time to put the world to rights on the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, with every prospect they will be shoulder to shoulder in the second row when the Tests commence. In the meantime, though, there are two feisty Anglo-Irish clashes to negotiate before either man can be considered first among equals.