Saracens star climbed the 72 stone steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art made famous by 1976 Sly Stallone Oscar-winning classic
ROCKY fan Maro Itoje is ready to land a knockout blow on Newcastle Falcons in a Premiership dust-up in Philadelphia today.
Saracens star Itoje, 22, warmed up by climbing the 72 stone steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that were made famous by Sly Stallone in the lead role of the legendary 1976 film.
Lions and England ace Itoje said: “I just felt I could not come to Philadelphia and not see the Rocky steps.
“It might not be super exciting but it is the Rocky steps — and you have to see the Rocky steps!” It will be only the second Premiership match to be played in the USA.
Saracens were involved in the first, beating London Irish in New Jersey in March 2016.
Itoje has conquered Europe twice with Saracens — as well as with England in the Six Nations — but the second row sensation and his team-mates are still relative nobodies in America.
But BT Sport ambassador Itoje has always been a big admirer of top US sports stars who take their game to the next level.
He said: “I follow LeBron James and Steph Curry in basketball and also some former players like Magic Johnson and some old NBA players like Hakeem Olajuwon.
“What I find interesting is the commentary as the commentary alongside American sports is so excitable.
“And I love the show they put on around events.
“Even if you go to a game and it turns out to be relatively boring, the whole show ensures you get your money’s worth. With football I tune in at Super Bowl time.
“I used to play basketball so I am more interested in that and mainly follow big teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers and see how they are getting on, especially around play-off time.
“I’ve been told to watch a documentary about the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’. It’s about this monster NFL player, Christian Okoye, from the 1980s who played for the Kansas City Chiefs. I found his story very interesting.
“I like watching a lot of US documentaries about sport as they do it really well.
“Back home there’s loads of stuff about the greatest game and I love the whole story behind successful teams — and what makes them successful.
“What’s really interesting is the personalities in the teams that drive them forward.
“The sportsmen I am more drawn to are the ones who are not only incredible athletes — at the top of their game — but the ones who have something more to them than just the sports that they end up playing.
“So it is those who have either characters or personalities who go beyond their sport.
“And it is not just guys with big mouths — those who like to talk a lot — but the guys who prove there is more to them than just the sport they play.”
BT Sport is the station where the best in sport go head-to-head. Watch Newcastle Falcons v Saracens live from Philadelphia today on BT Sport 3 from 9pm.