Eye concern for Borthwick

England captain admitted to hospital after suffering injury to right eye

Last updated: 28th September 2009   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Eye concern for Borthwick

Borthwick: eye injury

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England captain Steve Borthwick is expected to be out for up to a month after receiving a kick to the face from Olivier Azam during Sunday's Guinness Premiership match between Saracens and Gloucester.

There was no immediate concern for the sight in Borthwick's right eye but, having applied five stitches, club medics transported him to London's Moorfields Hospital for closer examination of his eye ball and socket.

And he will under go further tests on Monday to establish the full extent of the damage.

After studying video footage of the incident, Sarries head coach Mark McCall suspects Azam may have deliberately kicked out at Borthwick in a 13th-minute ruck.

McCall said: "We have had a quick look at it. We are concerned at the way it occurred and it would appear it may have been a deliberate act of foul play.

"Steve is at hospital to see if there is any damage to his eye-socket.

"It is more than a cut. His eye is completely closed over and at this stage we don't know how badly damaged it is.

"The video footage we have seen so far would appear to be reasonably clear.

"It is something nobody wants to see. Steve was on the ground and pretty much defenceless in the position he was in."

Azam denied deliberately kicking Borthwick, explaining he had lashed out with his right leg because his left ankle was being twisted at the bottom of the ruck.

"I didn't know I did it. Someone twisted my ankle but I didn't know I touched him," the hooker said.

"Of course (it was accidental)."

Best-ever start

Saracens nevertheless defied the loss of Borthwick to go top of the table with a fourth straight victory - their best-ever start to the Premiership season.

Replacement hooker Schalk Brits scored the decisive try after 67 minutes and fly-half Glen Jackson chipped in with 14 points.

"We are under no illusions that we are playing the best rugby in the league but this is a brand new squad and we are building from the bottom," said McCall.

"We have made ourselves unbelievably competitive. It is important we continue to win but everyone in the changing room knows we can improve."

Gloucester had taken an early lead through Rory Lawson and maintained that advantage until Brits barged over.

Nicky Robinson kicked three penalties and a conversion but he missed with an injury-time drop goal that would have earned the Cherry and Whites a draw.

"I thought we had done enough to win the game," said Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath, who insisted he had not seen the Borthwick incident.

"We put a huge amount in but didn't get a huge amount out of it."