Billy Vunipola played like he had never been away from the European champions in their 38-15 win over Wasps last Sunday despite being sidelined with a knee injury since September 23.
For his part Itoje had his first game for a month after recovering from a broken jaw but concedes he did not hit the ground running as fast as Vunipola.
But the pair get the chance to assess their progress when Saracens visit the Ospreys for a game they must win to keep their alive hopes of emulating Toulon and winning the Champions Cup three times in a row.
Itoje, who now has four metal plates in his face, is ready to step it up a gear for the Pool Two encounter in Swansea with everything on the line – and Saracens will need it.
“In the first game back, apart from if you are Billy Vunipola, it takes a little while to get going. I felt alright against Wasps,” said Itoje.
“It was good to get 80 minutes but this week I am sure I will be even sharper and then the following week I will feel even sharper. I feel pretty close.
“I had a few recurring niggles. I managed to iron out those things. Fortunately your jaw doesn’t affect your legs and arms so I was able to lift properly in the gym and I was able to run. So I feel in decent nick.
“Billy is an exceptional athlete. I was watching the game on the coach back from Coventry and looking at some of the stuff that Billy was doing and it was just unbelievable.
“The thing about him is that he is one of our most consistent performers, so more often than not he is going to produce displays like that.”
Itoje’s injury meant he had to lay off the steaks for a couple of weeks but he knows Saracens have to get their teeth stuck into a season that has stuttered.
After suffering a succession of injuries Saracens lost seven on the bounce – including two games against Clermont which left their European campaign on a knife edge – but have now won three in a row in the Premiership.
They are just about fully-loaded for tonight’s game with wing Liam Williams back for the first time since suffering a groin injury on Wales duty in the autumn.
And Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, the Vunipolas, Jamie George and Itoje are all on parade.
“The next two weeks are big for the club. It basically sets up our European destiny,” said Itoje. “We need a result this week to be brutally honest. It’s massive.
“I was very eager to come back and play a part in helping the club hopefully get to where we want to get to.
“We had to take a hard look at ourselves and see what we wanted our club to be about. We probably weren’t all the time so it is about being consistent with that, and about having each other’s backs.
“We are a tight group here and that is what has seen us through some big games over the last couple of years and it is important that we keep that. With the players and coaches we have at our disposal then in the long run we will be all right.”
Exeter also have a must-win fixture against Montpellier in Pool Three and have Henry Slade back in the centre but Northampton, who host Clermont, are already out of Pool Two after a dismal set of results.
Wasps, with Joe Launchbury back at lock, need to win at Harlequins to stay in contention for a quarter-final spot with a round of pool games to go, but the hosts are out and rest boy wonder Marcus Smith.
Source : EXPRESS