Saracens to face final without coach Venter

Saracens coach Brendan Venter will be baby-sitting his five-year-old son as his team attempt to win the English Premiership for the first time at Twickenham on Saturday.

Saracens face Leicester, who are in their sixth straight final, but the man who has done most to transform the underdogs this season is barred from entering the ground after losing his appeal against his 14-week ban for a fracas at Leicester on May 8.

The ban was reduced to ten weeks on Wednesday but Venter is still barred from any contact with his team on the biggest day of the season.

Instead he will be on the sofa at home with his youngest son, Joshua, whilst his wife, Annene, takes the couple’s two eldest children to the game.

Saracens’ scrum-half and former All Black great Justin Marshall feels the ban is harsh after Venter’s contribution to the side’s transformation from under-achievers to Premiership contenders.

Marshall said: “He has played such a big part in building this team and turning it into a winning unit. He deserves so much credit for the way he has created a winning mentality and atmosphere both in training and on the field.

“He and his backroom staff have laid the foundations for our success this season. They have looked after things off the field so well that we the players can go out there and perform our best both in mind and body.”

Saracens finished the regular season in third place but earned their spot in the final by beating runners-up Northampton 21-19 away from home to give, Marshall the chance to close his career in style.

And, typically, the New Zealander is not writing off his side’s chances against the reigning champions Leicester who topped the table before beating Bath in the semi-finals.

Marshall added: “We won’t go to Twickenham with any fear. Why should we? We beat them at Welford Road recently.

“If we win I will get most pleasure seeing the joy on the faces of everyone at the club. It’s not for myself. It’s about Saracens and the ambition here.

“Leicester are a great club with a great history. But history and tradition count for little when it’s a big final. Just because you have a great history doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”

Saracens sprung a surprise when they announced that club captain Steve Borthwick will start the game after recovering from a knee injury.

Borthwick has not played since England’s 15-15 draw with Scotland in March but Venter believes he has recovered enough to play some part in the final.

England manager Martin Johnson has been in discussions with Saracens about Borthwick’s fitness, but conceded: “You can’t deny players the chance to play in finals.”

Saturday will mark Lewis Moody’s final match in a Leicester shirt -before his move to Bath – after 14 years at Welford Road.

Moody, who will captain England in Australia, said: “I won’t let my emotions get involved. After the game will be time to look back and enjoy all the times I have had with Leicester.

“I can dwell on my last game when the final whistle has blown – then I will enjoy the memories – then it will time for that.”

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