Aviva Premiership: Schalk Brits admits defeat in stopping Borthwick's retirement
Schalk Brits has revealed his devastation at the retirement of Saracens team-mate Steve Borthwick.
Last Updated: 30/05/14 3:01pm
The Springboks hooker has spent four months pleading with his club's captain not to hang up his boots after Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.
Borthwick will wrap up 16 years of top-flight rugby in the Twickenham league battle against Northampton, before joining Japan's coaching ranks full-time.
Brits revealed workaholic Borthwick's famed line-out obsession even extended to a Saracens bonding trip in Swiss ski resort Verbier and said: "We were rooming together and I came back late in the night after a few beers,
and he had his laptop out watching line-outs.
"I said, 'hey man, give me a hug, I love you - put the laptop down'. He said 'no way, I need to do this before I can have another beer tomorrow night'.
"I've never known a guy as diligent as Steve - it's phenomenal. It's one of the saddest times for me ever: he's the yin to my yang. I'm the happy guy, he's the serious guy: I'm the guy that makes jokes at line-out sessions and he doesn't take the mick out of me - he just says 'shut up, let's just go do some line-outs'.
"As my captain, as a friend and a fellow rugby player, I'm going to miss him a
The South African continued: "I've been teasing him and I've been trying to get him to play for one more year, but he's not budging.
"I've been doing that now for about four months, almost every day when I come in I say: 'one more year, please'. And he'll say 'my body is done' and he's one guy who has put in everything that you can into the game.
"He's one guy that's taught me that work ethic is vital, and his is second to
none. You would only understand him when you work with him.
"He's first in and last out every day, and he's put his heart and soul into
this club and his rugby."
Borthwick won 57 caps for England across 10 years with Bath and six at Saracens.
Brits said the grizzled operator's homespun humility will ensure sentiment has
no bearing in Saturday's showpiece contest, as Saracens chase their first league title since 2011.
"He never takes credit or talks about what he does," Brits said. "He would give me a proper whack on the head if I said before this game, 'boys, let's do it for Steve'.
"He just gets his work done, and I've learned so much from him, not just as a
rugby player but as a person as well. I've got very good line-out stats, percentages of winning line-out ball, but I've only got a very small part to play in that.
"I just throw the ball in, but it's Steve that makes the fantastic calls that
make my stats look good - that's his forte."
Former Australia coach Eddie Jones was responsible for recruiting Borthwick at
Saracens in 2008, and the duo will reunite with Japan this summer.
Mako Vunipola will miss Saturday's Premiership final, however, after failing to
recover from knee trouble suffered in Saracens' 23-6 Heineken Cup final defeat