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Borthwick ready to retire

Saracens captain Steve Borthwick has announced he will retire on his "own terms" at the end of this season.

The 34-year-old former England skipper, who began his professional career at Bath in 1998 before moving to Saracens five years ago, believes the time is right to bring his career to an end.

"Very few players have the chance to retire on their own terms," Borthwick told saracens.com.

"Saracens did ask me if I'd like to carry on but I feel that the time is right for me to finish playing at the end of the season.

"That's still a few months away, and I am obviously 100 per cent focused on improving as a player and leading this team to the best of my ability."

Borthwick made 57 Test appearances for England at lock and led Saracens to the 2011 Aviva Premiership title.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Steve has become a Saracens legend, as a leader, as a player, as man who sets the highest standards in everything he does.

"He will be sorely missed in due course but, for now, with Steve at the helm, we are focused on Saturday's match against Sale."

Borthwick captained England 21 times during his 16-year career and won his first cap against France in 2001. However, he missed out on a place in Sir Clive Woodward's 2003 World Cup-winning squad under then skipper Martin Johnson.

The second row revealed that Saracens had offered him a new contract for next season but he chose to turn it down.

"Sarries asked me last March if I would keep playing after this season and I thought long and hard about my decision," Borthwick told the London Evening Standard.

"At the end of September I told the club, 'Thanks but I am going to retire at the end of this season'. There are a few reasons; I didn't want my level of performance to drop and I wanted to make sure I retired on my terms, playing well and being fit and healthy.

"Rugby is a very demanding sport and takes a toll on your body and it's a factor as well because you want to be in a good shape later on in life. I realise very few players get the opportunity I've been given."

Despite his absence from next year, the Carlisle-born forward is confident Saracens can recover from the disappointment of last season, when they lost out to Northampton in the Aviva Premiership semi-final and to Toulon at the same stage in the Heineken Cup.

Borthwick said: "We have a great squad at Sarries and we've had some very big lessons - none more so than at the end of last season in the both the Premiership and Heineken Cup.

"We were in a great position in both and didn't get the outcomes we wanted and have worked extremely hard.

"The squad are even stronger this year and we are striving to make the end of season possibilities a reality and are heading in the right direction."

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