Lions target Bakkies signature

February 9, 2011
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It has been a rumour that has surfaced in recent days, and although everyone will deny it, it seems to be true.

Brenden Nel – Superrugby

The Golden Lions are targeting the signature of Springbok lock Bakkies Botha as their next major signing for 2012.

Botha’s contract ends at the end of October with the Bulls and it was widely expected that he would take up a lucrative contract with French club Toulon at this time.

However, sources in France have confirmed that Toulon have given up on getting the giant lock’s signature after he told them he had decided to end his career in South Africa.

The Bulls have not spoken to Botha about renewing his contract, mainly because he gave them an indication that he was not interested in renewing it after it ended.

Botha forms part of a small group of core Springboks – including Fourie du Preez, Danie Rossouw and Victor Matfield – who have indicated they are set to retire or go overseas after this year’s World Cup tournament in New Zealand.

After the signing of Butch James and ongoing negotiations with Frans Steyn and BJ Botha, Lions officials have made no secret of the fact they are looking for an experienced lock to join their ranks to bolster their young team.

They initially chased the signature of Andries Bekker, but the Stormers lock declined because he is happy in Cape Town and it now seems they have set their sights on Botha.

‘NOTHING OFFICIAL YET’

The Bulls have privately acknowledged they know approaches have been made to Botha, but when asked, chief executive Barend van Graan said they had heard “nothing official yet and therefore cannot comment on the matter.”

In Bulls team ranks it is said that Botha has negotiated with the Guma group – which is owned by investor Robert Gumede, one of the two big-money investors into the Lions this year.

Players are only officially allowed to negotiate new contracts as from 1 July according to South African Rugby Union regulations, but there is no clause that stops a player from negotiating with a third party.

Lions chief executive Manie Reyneke declined to comment on the matter when asked, but it is known that Botha has spoken to the Lions before.

The big lock is set to retire and concentrate on his farming and business interests, and a big payday at the Lions would certainly make his retirement options better.

It is expected that if the deal goes through, Botha would be at the Lions for one season, possibly two.

Neither Botha, nor his agent were available for comment but Lions investor Ivor Ichikowitz denied the move.

“The rumours are not true as far as I am aware,” he said in a text message.

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13 Comments

  1. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Surely no money Guma could throw at Bakkies would match a season or two on the Pound or Euro…

    But throwing in home advantage could make this interesting… would be a good signing as opposed to Butch methinks?

  2. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:24 pm:

    Actually in light of Pretoors’ retirement Butch for a season is probably not too bad… even at a big price…

  3. avatar Morné says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:24 pm:

    That is the clincher, Bakkies earning a lot of cash, and he does not need to leave PTA…

  4. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:30 pm:

    For sure… and the Lions are in dire need of a quality bruiser to shore up the T5 (a scarce commodity it seems)…

  5. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Lol… I can imagine Butch in a Lions jumper… but not Bakkies…

  6. avatar Morné says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:38 pm:

    Some of our bloubul maatjies are going to be really pissed at this…

  7. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:40 pm:

    Like when Uli Schmidt switched allegiances?
    :lol:

  8. avatar Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I am beginning to really like this.

    The greatest South African players should play their rugby in South Africa. There is enough money. Just use it correctly.

    Up the Lions.

  9. avatar Morné says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Reply to Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes @ 2:34 pm:

    My take on it too.

    I dont care who he plays for, he will at least be in SA!

    Go Gumede!

    Reply to Boertjie @ 1:48 pm:

    Man I remember that. Boys were seriously miffed and it was in the days when players were supposedly ‘not paid’…

    Read a nice piece about Hannes Strydom yesterday, he mos also crossed the Jukskei from Bloubul land to Lions country in the 90′s…

  10. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 1:48 pm:

    I become a Transvaal fan that day…

  11. avatar DavidS says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Big tradition of crossing the Jukskei

    Johan Roux
    Geo and Jacques Cronje
    Uli Schmidt
    Rudolph Straueli
    Jannie Breedt

    I would personally have gone for one of the younger players like Juandre or Fudge Mabetha and not the soon to retire Bakkies for one or two seasons.

  12. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Last I heard of Uli he was opening a branch of BOQ bank in Kanwal… a fairly sleepy coastal town (peaceful for Central Coast NSW) where he has his practice and helps develop talent at the Wildcats rugby team in his spare time… a real community player by all accounts… just don’t go near his daughters…

  13. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Reply to DavidS @ 3:04 pm:

    Didn’t Otto do the same…

    Schmidt, Breed, Strauli, Wiese… there were some Bruisers there around that time…

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