Aviva Premiership: Saracens’ Borthwick eyes Harlequins scalp
Saracens skipper Steve Borthwick says his side's squad players deserve praise for coping in the absence of internationals
All the talk at Wembley this week may have been about returning England internationals, but according to skipper Steve Borthwick it’s the Saracens squad players who deserve the plaudits.
While the likes of Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle, Mouritz Botha, Charlie Hodgson and Matt Stevens were away with England during this year’s Six Nations – Saracens’ strength-in-depth was tested to the limit.
Two wins from four Aviva Premiership games at London Wasps and against fellow play-off challengers Northampton represented a reasonable return for Sarries’ hugely depleted squad in February and March.
And Borthwick, who has seen the likes of Duncan Taylor, Adam Powell and George Kruis deputise for the England contingent, highlighted the key cameos made by Sarries’ bit-part players in keeping the London club firmly in play-off contention.
“We have had players come back from the Six Nations with some fantastic experiences and it’s up to us to continue to improve as a team now,” said Borthwick.
“But the first thing to say is that the Premiership is about a squad of players, a lot is said about a handful but the truth is we are all about the squad and the team.
“At Sarries we have a great squad, players who are fully committed to what we are trying to achieve.
“Whether that be players that have played international rugby, players that are just breaking into the international game, players that are striving to make that jump or even players that have come up from the academy and are striving to make that step-up to the Saracens first team, everyone is fully committed to what we do here.
“You have got to have that squad of players to be successful, it’s super to have our internationals back and I know that everybody at the club was thrilled that those guys got an opportunity.”
With a home semi-final in the play-offs, the carrot for finishing in the Aviva Premiership’s top two come May – Borthwick admitted a win over Harlequins this weekend would significantly assist their quest to put some much-needed daylight between themselves Leicester and Northampton.
“A home play-off is ideal but we really don’t like to state goals about where we aim to finish,” added Borthwick. “What we talk about is being the best team that we can possibly be, win as many games as we can and enjoy it while doing so.
“We know it’s going to be tight and hard fought so we will have to be at the very best that we can be.
“I know the stage of the season where we are at but we’re really not looking any further than this weekend and being in the best position with everyone knowing their roles to win a game of rugby that we know will be tight.”
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