Brown and Borthwick raise concerns

Banbury Cake: Steve Borthwick suffered a shoulder injury against Harlequins Steve Borthwick suffered a shoulder injury against Harlequins

England boss Stuart Lancaster and Saracens rugby director Mark McCall are awaiting injury updates on two talisman players as they plan for major challenges either side of the world.

Lancaster will be without a number of key individuals when England tackle New Zealand in Auckland on June 7 due to the Aviva Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton taking place a week earlier.

But he has now been hit by an injury concern surrounding star full-back Mike Brown, who limped off with hamstring trouble during Harlequins' 31-17 play-off defeat against Saracens on Saturday.

And McCall can only hope that club captain Steve Borthwick will recover in time from a shoulder problem as double-chasing Saracens build towards next weekend's Heineken Cup final against holders Toulon, followed by the Premiership's Twickenham showpiece.

England will open a three-Test series against the All Blacks already deprived of Premiership finalists like Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode, Ben Foden, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley and Luther Burrell.

And Brown, player of the tournament in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, could now give cause for concern.

Brown tweeted on Saturday night: "Hammy is sore, but hopefully just a small strain. Rest, ice and assessment."

And Quins rugby director Conor O'Shea said: "Hopefully, it is just a little twinge.

"It was hot out there. The surface is different to what we are used to playing on.

"It's a twinge, I hope, nothing more, but we will see after the next couple of days. He has got a few weeks until that first Test. Hopefully, he is alright."

Borthwick, making his final appearance at Allianz Park, departed in the second period as his team ultimately overpowered Quins by scoring 20 unanswered points after trailing 17-11.

"We don't know yet. We hope he is okay," McCall said of Borthwick.

"A career as wonderful as his doesn't deserve to finish today (Saturday), it deserves to finish in two weeks' time.

"We don't know. There is definitely concern about him. We will know more in the next 24 hours."

It appears unlikely that Saracens, who are bidding to become the first Premiership and Heineken Cup double winners since Wasps 10 years ago, will rush into a decision on Borthwick this week.

If he does not recover in time for Toulon, McCall has a number of ready-made leaders at his disposal, including current Scotland captain Kelly Brown and South African hooker Schalk Brits.

"Kelly is a wonderful player," McCall added, after Brown scored one of Saracens' three tries.

"I said to him after the match 'have you got quicker?' People see him as a more defensive player, a bit of a stopper, but on the ball on Saturday he was as good as anyone.

"I am so chuffed for him. His season for Scotland was a tough one. He is a great person to have around the place.

"Our second-half performance was outstanding. We won it 20-0, we could have won it by more. The reaction to going down to 13 men (Marcelo Bosch and Matt Stevens were sin-binned in quick succession) was brilliant.

"The squad is really confident at the moment. They front-up every single week. We've got some demons from the past in these semi-finals - against Toulon last season and Northampton here.

"I think we have come a long way as a team and a squad in the last 12 months. Our season was over this time 12 months ago. It was finished, we had nothing left to do and we just had regrets.

"We've had five years of building to this point. It hasn't all gone smoothly - there have been some big setbacks along the way.

"We have got players who are more mature and are better than they were a couple of years ago. It's good to be part of."

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