English Rugby
Kay tips Borthwick to bounce back
July 1, 2010
Steve Borthwick of England look on during an England training session at the Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot, England on November 18, 2008.
Former England captain Steve Borthwick must make do with a place in the Saxons squad for the coming season © Getty Images

Former England lock Ben Kay believes Steve Borthwick will rise to the challenge of being dropped from Martin Johnson's latest squad.

Borthwick was the biggest casualty when the latest England elite squad was announced on Thursday with winger Ugo Monye, centre Mathew Tait, lock Louis Deacon and hooker Lee Mears joining him in being relegated to the second-string Saxons squad.

The news is a fresh setback for the Saracens second row who saw the captaincy of the side pass to flanker Lewis Moody when a knee injury ruled him out of England's final Six Nations clash with France. The 30-year-old also missed the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand during which time Gloucester's Dave Atwood, Stade Francais' Tom Palmer and Northampton's Courtney Lawes impressed in his absence. All three locking options are included in Johnson's 32-man squad alongside veteran Simon Shaw.

But Kay, now a co-commentator for ESPN's coverage of the Premiership, is confident his former international team-mate will bounce back and prove the England coaches wrong. "It's always tough when you get an injury and are forced to sit out a tour and then watch other players do well in your position," the recently-retired Kay told ESPN Scrum.

"But he's a very strong character and I am sure he will see it as a challenge and try and prove the coaches wrong. He's that sort of guy, he works particularly hard on his game and I doubt very much it will be the end of Steve Borthwick as an international player."

Johnson had stood by Borthwick in the face of widespread criticism over the last two years and the Sarries stalwart captained England for 20 consecutive Tests until he was sidelined by injury. "Leaving Steve Borthwick out was a very hard decision," the England boss said in a statement. "He's done a fantastic job for England over the last couple of years and it's the most difficult call we've had to make."

Borthwick now he faces a big battle to add to his 57 international caps with the World Cup just over a year away. "It is tough on him but he's the sort of character who will battle back," added Kay. "He's done it before, he's taken knock-backs and criticism and missed out on World Cups but I'm sure we will see him again."

© Scrum.com

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