Venter welcomes return of Borthwick

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The Independent Online

Brendan Venter has no qualms over pitching Saracens captain Steve Borthwick straight into Saturday's Guinness Premiership final against Leicester.

Borthwick has not played since aggravating a knee injury in England's 15-15 draw with Scotland on March 13.



His season appeared to be over when the 30-year-old lock missed this month's key matches against Leicester and Northampton.



But he has made a rapid recovery over the last two weeks and Venter is ready to name him in the starting line-up for the Twickenham showpiece.



"It's fantastic to have such a world-class lock back in the mix," said Venter, Saracens' director of rugby.



"Steve will start because he's trained really well with us.



"The over-riding thing for me is to get such a special rugby player onto the pitch.



"We're very happy to have him back and it will be good for the team.



"It was also for Steve's sake - it's not every day you get to a final. It would be crazy not to use him.



"We wanted him back a little bit earlier. He had planned to come back for the Leicester game earlier this month and then for Northampton.



"He spoke to me last week and I said if he could train last week at full pace then we would consider him for selection.



"When I sat down with the coaches the over-riding opinion was that it would be wrong not to use a world-class player for the final."



South African number eight Ernst Joubert - team captain in Borthwick's enforced absence - will continue to lead the side in case Borthwick fails to last the match.



Borthwick was recently omitted from England's squad for the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand to enable him to continue his rehabilitation.



He lost the Test captaincy to Lewis Moody for the final RBS 6 Nations match against France and the Leicester openside looks set to continue in the role this summer.



"Martin Johnson had to make a decision two weeks ago and at that stage Steve was not fit to play," said Venter.



"Now the progress has been such that he is fit to play."



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