Borthwick among the greats - McCall

Congleton Guardian: Steve Borthwick suffered heartbreak in his final appearance Steve Borthwick suffered heartbreak in his final appearance

Steve Borthwick should be held in the same esteem as Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O'Driscoll, according to Mark McCall.

Saracens lock Borthwick, Toulon fly-half Wilkinson and Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll all retired after club finals on Saturday.

Former England captain Borthwick was unable to stop Northampton claiming the Aviva Premiership title with a 24-20 extra-time victory at Twickenham.

England World Cup-winner Wilkinson guided Toulon to the Heineken Cup-French Top 14 double in his final game, with O'Driscoll going off injured but part of Leinster's Pro12 victory.

Saracens rugby director McCall believes unfashionable Borthwick has not always received due recognition - but said the 34-year-old has produced a career to rival world totems Wilkinson and O'Driscoll.

"I don't know whether people will see it that way where Steve is concerned, but he should be considered in similar regard to those other two who are retiring as well, shouldn't he?" said Saracens director of rugby McCall.

"The record Premiership appearance holder, more than 50 caps for England: he's squeezed every ounce out of his body over a 16-year period.

"I think he deserves it but I'm sure he might not receive that same level of recognition."

Borthwick battled past pectoral injury trouble to appear in Saracens' Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership finals, only for the north Londoners to lose both.

Former Ulster coach McCall said retiring without another trophy will not dent Borthwick's legacy one bit.

"It's irrelevant in a way that he couldn't finish with a trophy, because he's just been such an extraordinary ambassador for the sport," said McCall on Saturday.

"He's been a wonderful player and captain for Bath, and a wonderful player and captain for us.

"He's been a huge part of the progress we've made in the last five seasons.

"Did he deserve better today? Probably, but he won't complain about it, because that's not in his nature.

"What he wanted from his team-mates before the game was a level of effort and commitment from each other, which he got.

"So he'll be disappointed, but he'll be unbelievably proud and satisfied with what his team-mates have given."

Alex Waller's extra-time try sealed Northampton's first ever Premiership title at Twickenham on Saturday, with Saracens frustrated by a try for Owen Farrell being awarded by referee JP Doyle, before being reviewed and chalked off.

McCall hailed Saracens for improving again across the course of the campaign, despite ending it empty-handed.

"It's been a brilliant season for us, but it certainly is unbelievably disappointing for us that it's ended this way," said McCall.

"There are two competitions we're interested in: this and the Heineken Cup.

"This was our fourth final in five years, we've been in seven semi-finals of those competitions, we talk about consistency a lot and we've brought that.

"And I know this group of players, I know this will be painful, but it won't be a setback, because a setback only occurs if you're less together, less tight, less hungry to improve.

"I think we've definitely improved in the last 12 months, the evidence is there for everyone to see."

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