Borthwick to learn from Bulls
Loftus Versfeld isn’t always seen as the cauldron of fresh ideas in rugby, but the Bulls this week will host Saracens captain and England lock Steve Borthwick, who will spend a week with the Super Rugby franchise to learn more ahead of a possible future coaching career.
The 33-year old Borthwick, who still is captaining the English Premiership club, dusted off the snow after Sarries Sunday win in the Heineken Cup and boarded the overnight flight to arrive in Pretoria on Monday, with the sunshine a stark contrast from the cold he was in 24 hours before.
And now that he is in South Africa, Borthwick believes he can learn a lot from the Bulls, and will take in all training sessions – from junior to senior level – to help him gain knowledge.
“I was given the week off by Saracens opportunity came up to come here, and the Blue Bulls have very kindly allowed me to come and observe. To learn and see how I can improve,” Borthwick said.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to observe every team that is training. Everybody has been very welcome here and very open so I’m hopefully I’m going to learn.”
There is no doubt the link through the SAIL/MARC group with Saracens is a beneficial one, which can only benefit both parties in the future. While Saracens host a number of top South African players, the links with the Bulls and Stormers will hopefully convert into tour matches and player swops in future. Already last year Tuks and Vodacom Cup captain Jono Ross used the opportunity to play for six months for Saracens to gain experience before returning earlier this week to rejoin the Bulls.
“The players have come over very well. Brad Barritt, who has gone on to play for England and the likes of Schalk Brits, Ernst Joubert and several others who have been excellent. So the links are strong, and clearly not on the playing front, but also on coaching with Brendan Venter there as well.”
Borthwick had no second thoughts on using the opportunity, and having just finished a Masters in Business Administration, jumped at the opportunity to learn from the Bulls.
“While I am still a player right now, it is very important for me to continue my education as a coach, so that I can be in a strong position when I retire. I’ve been assisting with the Saracens academy and taking on whatever opportunities I can to learn. It’s a great opportunity for me to take the time to watch top quality coaches at the Bulls and to learn from them,” he added.
“Right now I’m a player and I want to be the best player and leader for Saracens that I can be so that we can achieve what we aspire to. What is important, is when opportunities present themselves to learn and develop, to experience other things, is to take those things.”
Turning to the Six Nations, Borthwick believes England are on the cusp of something great, and provided they continue on their current path, should taste Six Nations success next month.
“England have a great chance, not just because of the win over the All Blacks, which was exceptional, but how they played in the other games. There was a lot of huge positives from an England point of view, and even on the tour last year, it was a great tour for England. As they get a lot more experience, there is a quality group of players who are spending a lot of time together and that’s very positive for the future.”