Borthwick deserves Heineken Cup final send-off, says McCall

SARACENS director of rugby Mark McCall hopes captain Steve Borthwick can prove his fitness in time for this weekend’s Heineken Cup final to bring the curtain down appropriately on his career.

The 34-year-old lock, set to retire at the end of the season, suffered a pectoral injury in Saturday’s Premiership semi-final victory against London rivals Harlequins.

McCall will decide tomorrow whether Borthwick will be fit enough to contest the European final in Cardiff, though will refuse the temptation to take a gamble on the former England captain’s condition.

“It would just prove that life’s unfair, because no-one deserves to play in a Heineken Cup final and a Premiership final in his last two games of rugby ever more than Steve Borthwick,” said McCall.

“We wouldn’t play him unless he’s proven he can play, functionally he’s got to be strong enough to play. We wouldn’t gamble at all with him, he’s got a significant injury.”

Should Borthwick, who captained England in 21 of his 57 appearances, fail to feature, McCall is confident Mouritz Botha can overcome the back injury which saw him miss Saturday’s match at Allianz Park to partner Alistair Hargreaves in the second row.

“The best part of Mo’s back seizing up on Saturday was that Alistair Hargreaves got 80 minutes, which he actually needed now that he looks like he’ll be very involved on Saturday,” added McCall.

“He played really well, he got stronger as the match went on and he’s a real class player.”