Springbok Bakkies Botha is excited about returning to the national team for their tour of Wales, Scotland and France, and hopes his presence will help the young lock duo of Pieter-Steph Du Toit and Eben Etzebeth combine better as a unit in international rugby.
By: Brenden Nel – SuperSport
According to the supersport.com, Botha was speaking in an exclusive interview with SuperSport, and said he was overjoyed by the call-up to the national side after a string of powerhouse performances for French glamour club Toulon.
Since arriving in France Botha has won the Heineken Cup and is playing some impressive rugby, making him an obvious call-up for coach Heyneke Meyer to mentor the two young locks as they head into three tough test matches.
And Botha is exited at the prospect of being back in Green and Gold.
“It’s always an amazing feeling to be selected for the Springboks after two years, my last test match was against Fiji at the Rugby World Cup – on my birthday. Hopefully I can get a chance to play again on the tour here, but its always a privilege to play for the Springboks,” he told SuperSport after receiving the call from Meyer last week.
“It was almost in the last week, he phoned me and asked if I am keen to play again for the Springboks. To play for the Springboks, anyone would give a yes answer. I’m very happy at this stage, and we’re getting together next week in Cardiff. From then on we will definitely have a meeting and discuss the road forward.”
Botha said while he missed South Africa, he was definitely enjoying his time in Toulon, but in the next month wants to give something back to Springbok rugby and help his former coach achieve some of his goals now that he is Bok coach.
“I’m here in France, and enjoying my time in Toulon. This Friday, the first of November I will be in Toulon for exactly two years. I arrived on the first of November 2011, since then I’ve been enjoying my rugby and people can see that I’m enjoying my rugby and the game I love so much and hopefully I can make an impact wherever they will use me,” Botha added.
“I think I can rub off a bit on the young locks coming through now in the form of Pieter Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth – they’re playing some exceptional rugby back home and if I can train with them a little bit and give them some of my experience, they can learn a little more. Then I would be quite happy.
“I must be honest, the day I signed at Toulon, I know the percentage (of playing for the Boks again) would be much less. When I arrived in Toulon I arrived with an injury and it was difficult for me to prove myself. But I proved myself and played some good rugby. One of my motivations was to get up every day and enjoy my rugby. I know it wasn’t in my hands, but in God’s hands and I know that if I gave it my all, got onto the pitch again and trained hard again, then one day the call-up would come from the Springboks.”
Botha will join former Bulls teammate Flip van der Merwe alongside Du Toit and Etzebeth as the four locks on tour, with all four being specialist four jumpers. Meyer’s hope is to transform two of them into five jumpers – and with Van der Merwe filling in well in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, the hope is that Du Toit will get a chance to show his worth on this tour.