Beno Obano, film maker and rapper, closes in on long-awaited England rugby debut

Beno Obano has made a film for Amazon Prime and rapped in front of England rugby coach Eddie Jones.

But what Maro Itoje’s first cousin wants above all else is to finally end his long quest for a first international cap.

Three years after a freak training ground injury on England duty robbed him of his opportunity, the Bath prop is in line for his debut in the Six Nations on Saturday week.

Injury to Mako Vunipola, plus Joe Marler’s decision to step down for personal reasons, means Obano is set to provide bench cover for Ellis Genge against Scotland.

“It will take him to a place he’s not been before,” said Neal Hatley, England scrum guru turned Bath head coach. “Playing for England in a Calcutta Cup game is a step up from club rugby. But Beno is definitely capable.

“He’s a driven individual, desperate to play for his country. Obviously his cousin is Maro. I’m sure he wants to go to those family barbecues wearing a cap.”

Jones had planned on blooding the power-packed Londoner long before now. He had earmarked the 2018 Six Nations but injury put paid to that.

He tried again for the South Africa tour that summer, only for Obano to tear multiple knee ligaments during a pre-tour training camp.

“I remember it very clearly,” said Hatley. “A double tackle on the pitch in Brighton. That was really tough for him.”

It put Obano out for the best part of a year but rather than put him off, only made him more determined.

The England squad assembles today at St George’s Park down another player after Sam Underhill withdrew injured yesterday.

Their preparations are further complicated by forwards coach Matt Proudfoot having tested positive for Covid, forcing Jones into 10 days of self-isolation which does not end until tomorrow.

Losing two loosehead props with 135 caps worth of experience makes life yet more difficult, but if Jones is concerned he is not letting on.

“I have never been so impressed by a player's determination to make it,” said the Australian of Obano. “I feel he is ready to step up to the plate.

“The amount of work he has done to get his body right – and he has made a documentary as well as get fit for rugby. That’s a pretty skilful exercise.”

Obano’s film, Everybody’s Game , explores race and class within rugby and he hopes it will change the perception of the sport.

The 26-year-old persuaded Itoje and fellow England star Anthony Watson to join him in telling their stories front of camera.

Now, it is Six Nations screen time he wants to share with them.

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