Praise for record-breaking Borthwick
April 13, 2014
Saracens' captain Steve Borthwick consoles Owen Farrell after a missed kick at goal © Getty Images
Coaches and players alike have lined up to praise Steve Borthwick as the Saracens captain set a new record for Premiership appearances at Allianz Park today.
Borthwick, 34, lead his team out against title-rivals Northampton Saints for his 263rd appearance and colleagues have hailed him as one of the best ever to play the game.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "All the captains I have been involved with lead by example, are great motivators or are able to change things around on the pitch. But Steve is all those things. It is unbelievably rare and he is probably the first in my experience who has everything and can do all those jobs. We are going to have a big hole in our organisation when he leaves.
Borthwick's 263 appearances take him one clear of Leicester hooker George Chuter, with the Saracens lock having started 256 of his 263 appearances so far.
Saracens teammate Charlie Hodgson, also a Premiership veteran, praised Borthwick's ability to keep up with the fitness demands on a professional rugby player in 2014: "The difference in physicality is ridiculous, really," he said. "I'm quite pleased I'm coming to the end rather than starting out. For Steve to get through all that is quite something but I think he is certainly feeling it in his body. You have to give players a rest and that's what Steve does very well each week."
Borthwick, who is expected to retire at the end of the season, endured a torrid time as England captain with Martin Johnson as head coach. But McCall defended Borthwick's role with the Red Rose: "Steve has had a rough ride, hasn't he? He got unbelievable, unwarranted criticism during his England days. He carried the can for the whole organisation and his reputation was tainted to a very unfair degree.
"So why would he want to put himself up there again? He deserves far, far better. He is the best person you could have to lead - a good bloke and very humble."
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