December 7 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, September 27, 2013
Saracens stars have hailed Steve Borthwick as the captain prepares to make his 250th Aviva Premiership appearance tomorrow against Harlequins.
The lock, who led Sarries to their only Premiership title victory in 2011, has guided the Allianz Park outfit to the top of the table this term.
They’ve done that with three consecutive maximum point hauls and they put that unblemished record on the line at The Stoop for a London derby which will see the former Bath star reach the landmark of the second highest number of appearances in the English top-flight.
“You look at his body and you’d probably say it’s his 400th game,” joked winger David Strettle, who has scored a brace in each of the last two games.
He added: “Steve is phenomenal. He’s our club captain and rightly so and there’s not one player that the boys respect more.
“When he talks the lads listen because he doesn’t just talk a good game, he plays a hell of a good game as well and before he’ll ask someone to do something he’ll do it himself first.
“His work-rate is phenomenal and is something the rest of the Premiership probably overlooks and doesn’t see, especially England coaches.
“When you look at the stats and see how well he plays, it’s phenomenal.
“You’re talking to wing now, so I don’t want to comment too much on forward play, but from what you hear there’s no better lineout operator than him.”
Full-back Alex Goode, in last weekend’s 31-17 win over Bath made a scoring return after shoulder reconstruction surgery, added: “He’s fantastic. He’s the best leader I’ve come across and he’s great to have in our team.
“We appreciate and rate him very, very highly and he’s a great player to have in the squad.
“To reach that many games is a credit to him and his professionalism.”
Tomorrow’s appearance will put Borthwich hot on the heels of former Saracens hooker George Chuter, who currently holds the record number of Premiership appearance with 261.
The front row is yet to feature for Leicester this term and is not in the squad for the Tigers’ trip to Exeter Chiefs on Sunday but Strettle insists that overtaking the 37-year-old’s record will not be in his skipper’s mind.
“Chutes is a legend of the game but so is Steve,” the winger said. “He won’t be focused on that.
“He’ll [Borthwick] hopefully play a lot more games in the next couple of years.
“He practices what he preaches and he’s a great leader for the team.”
Goode added: “I don’t think someone like George Chuter would begrudge him [beating the record]. Steve’s been in the second row for so long, firstly of a top Bath side and now a top Saracens side.
“He’s led from the front and that’s an impressive feat.”
Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall has made only one change to the starting XV that convincingly beat Bath last weekend, with Kelly Brown replacing Ernst Joubert in the back row.
Brown starts his first game for Saracens this season, after recovering from an ankle injury - the Scot takes his place in the back-row at blindside flanker alongside Jacques Burger, and Bill Vunipola at No.8.
George Kruis keeps his place at lock, while the back-line remains unchanged from the seven that played against Bath.
Jackson Wray is back in the mix, named as a replacement as Nick Auterac, Michael Tagicaikibau and Jack Wilson all come into the match-day 23 for the first time this season.
Saracens: 1. M. Vunipola, 2. Brits, 3. Stevens, 4. Borthwick ©, 5. Kruis, 6. Brown, 7. Burger, 8. B. Vunipola; 9. Wigglesworth, 10. Farrell; 11. Strettle, 12. Taylor, 13. Wyles, 14. Ashton; 15. Goode
Replacements: 16. George, 17. Auterac, 19. Johnston, 19.Hargreaves, 20. Wray, 21. De Kock, 22. Tagicakibau, 23. Wilson