Steve Borthwick approaches his 14th season as a professional rugby player with the same enthusiasm and excitement that he had when entering the doors of The Rec with Bath in 1998.
He describes yet another preseason as tough, but that “it’s nice to push the boundaries” and “it’s always done with the main aim of being the best player you can be.” There is something reassuring about hearing a man who has played 57 times for his country, 21 one of those as captain, still talking about improvements and bettering himself as a player on and off the pitch.
It’s a big season for Saracens, who are in the process of moving home – their previous residence at Vicarage Road where they ground-shared with Watford Football Club was at times strenuous for both parties, with the pitch often paying the price for hosting two heavy-footed sports.
But from February 2013, Saracens are moving to Allianz Park – formerly known as Barnet Copthall Stadium. Exeter Chiefs are scheduled to be the first visiting team, and this is something to which Borthwick is very much looking forward. “It will be sensational for the squad, for the supporters and the community and we’re all really excited about it.”
Saracens have recruited well over the summer with their stand-out signing being the flying northern winger Chris Ashton and Borthwick is full of praise for him. “He is a class act and a proven world-level player who we are all excited about seeing on the field in a Saracens jersey.”
But he is also quick to praise the whole squad for its depth, which is full of other talented England players such as Owen Farrell, Brad Barrit and Richard Wigglesworth amongst others – and not forgetting the two recently-retired English war horses in Matt Stevens and Charlie Hodgson.
“As a team we’re not blasé, but our ambition is to win every game we go into. We’re not a team that sets goals but we want to win every game, as every single fixture matters to us.”
“In the last two seasons we’ve won 35 out of 44 Premiership games and we want that to continue, starting this weekend at Twickenham.”