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Historic day for Saracens trio

Neil de Kock has played alongside some of the greatest players this country has ever produced at Saracens, including the likes of Steve Borthwick, Richard Hill, and Kyran Bracken.

But as he prepares to pull on the famous black and red jersey for the 250th time today against Exeter Chiefs, he admits it is the current crop of players that excites him the most.

It will be a day of milestones at Allianz Park, as both Chris Wyles and Alex Goode are also set to make their 200th appearances for the north London club.

But with no fewer than five England internationals returning to the starting XV for their Exeter clash, de Kock is adamant that most of Saracens’ new school will go on to surpass his 250 caps.

“The Vunipola brothers, Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell are just fantastic rugby players,” he told The South African.

“Alex Goode too is just untouchable at the moment. I’m very chuffed to have been a part of their careers.

“The future of Saracens is a very exciting one. If you look at the England team that won the Grand Slam, Saracens are the bulk of that pack.

“So I’m very excited to see what Saracens are going to achieve in the next three or four years.”

A proud South African, de Kock represented the Springboks on ten occasions, including at the 2003 World Cup, and scored two tries.

But after joining Saracens from Super Rugby’s Stormers in 2006, the 37-year-old’s love affair with the club has never waned.

In his debut season in North London, De Kock made 25 appearances and saw off the likes of Fijian Mosese Rauluni and the Englishman Alan Dickens to establish himself as first choice scrum-half.

He was then named playing captain for the 2007/08 season, alongside club captain and England stalwart Hill.

And two Aviva Premiership Rugby titles later, as well as a European Cup final appearance in 2013/14, de Kock can look back at his time in England with no regrets.

He said: “This club has given me so much. I’ve had such a brilliant time at this club – I will have had three children while being involved with this club, and there is no place I would rather finish my career.

“My roots are firmly embedded here and I owe a lot to Nigel Wray, to the coaches and to the club itself. I’m always willing to give back to the club that has given me so much.

“One game that does stand out is the 2011 Premiership victory. On the back of the heart-breaking loss to Leicester the previous year we managed to scrape through and to win it. That will stand out to me as my fondest memory.

“The first Premiership trophy was very special because a lot of people doubted us at the time saying we were a flash-in-the-pan and that it won’t last. I’m just delighted we proved the critics wrong.

“A lot of the memories I will take with me are the off-field memories. We’ve been fortunate to have had some unbelievable trips all around the world and to share these experiences with some incredible individuals.

“The 10 years I’ve been playing rugby here I’ve probably played with 100 guys and it has been fantastic. To keep contact with those guys for the next two decades would be brilliant.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.

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