Saracens centre Brad Barritt has stressed his memories of his time with the club have not been tarnished.
On Monday it was announced the 33-year-old, who has been a Saracens player since 2008, had signed a contract extension to stay until the end of the current season and will then be leaving.
When the campaign reaches its delayed conclusion, the club will be dropping from the Gallagher Premiership into the Championship, having been relegated for salary cap breaches.
🗞 Captain Brad Barritt has signed a contract extension with the club.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) June 29, 2020
Barritt – winner of five Premiership and three European titles during his Saracens career – said on Thursday: “I think with a bit of age and a bit of wisdom you look back over a period and you have to appreciate the 11-and-a-half (years), fantastic memories and journeys and things you’ve been on.
“And every rugby player knows what they have put in to make something successful, regardless of anything other people want to say.
“Anyone who has been a part of those teams know what sacrifice, what hard work went into achieving anything, especially (given) where Saracens was in 2008. For me, I’ll always hold those special, special memories very close to myself.
“You can’t stop what people think, you can only look back and look yourself in the mirror and I know what I personally put into a journey and what I felt at the time and how it made me feel. At no point did I ever feel that those memories are tarnished.”
Durban-born Barritt, who has 26 England caps and has also played for the British and Irish Lions, is yet to decide whether he will retire from playing when he departs Saracens, but he has ruled out playing for another UK side.
Barritt said: “I have a few plans, but at this point I’m still going to take a few months to decide (about finishing playing or not).
“I was graciously offered a deal by the club some time ago. I just feel at this point in my life a new challenge is definitely what I need. I have a young family. Whether we return back to South Africa or stay in the UK is probably the more pressing question.”
As well as the birth of his second child, Barritt says the lockdown period has also seen his coffee business do well.
🗣 @Saracens has been my home & family for 12 years.All good things, have to come to an end. As I’ve decided that the 19/20 season, will be my last as a Saracen. However, I’m delighted to have extended my stay to defend our @ChampionsCup title & finish the @premrugby season. pic.twitter.com/6psyHfdz7n
— Brad Barritt (@bradbarritt) June 29, 2020
When asked about the possibility of coaching in the future, he said: “I would never rule it out, but it’s not part of my focus.
“I do feel passionate about business, entrepreneurship and just about putting myself there in a different sphere. But I would never close the door on getting involved in rugby in the future.”
While they are set to drop down a league, Saracens are expected to retain the services of England players Maro Itoje, Billy and Mako Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and Jamie George.
Regarding to the club’s future and chances of success, Barritt said: “Fundamentally, I think the ingredients are still there. There is still an incredible hotbed of talent, the academy is still doing an incredible job.
“But it is wiping the slate clean. Saracens is going to start a new era, they have a year in the Championship, and they are going to have to be as motivated for that because it is never just a walk in the park going in and making sure you win rugby games.
“I think there’s still a very strong core ethos of what Saracens is, and they will continue to blood youngsters I think over this season and as they come back into the Premiership.”