BJ Botha does not know why he has been left out of the South African Tri-Nations rugby team to tour Australasia.
“No, I’m not injured. I was simply not selected. I don’t know what the reason is,” the experienced tighthead prop forward said on Tuesday.
“I felt I did well when I was given the opportunity but I don’t read too much into it (his omission),” the 28-year-old Botha said.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that Botha’s omission from the 28-man squad was the major surprise when the names were announced on Tuesday.
Botha, who has played in 17 Test matches, was South Africa’s No 1 tighthead prop at the World Cup tournament in France last year before he was injured.
He was also part of a solid Springbok performance in the scrums in the second Test against Wales recently.
However, CJ van der Linde and Brian Mujati have been selected as tighthead props for the tour of New Zealand and Australia, with Gurthrö Steenkamp and Tendai Mtawarira on the other side of the front row.
Botha will join Ulster in Ireland in January. However, after a good Super 14 season, he was expected to lend experience to the SA scrum in the Tri-Nations series.
Mujati did not impress in the first Test against Wales but experts such as Gert Smal and Robbie Kempson said the rookie prop should not be dropped after one international.
Comfortable on either side
The scrumming is the one aspect of the Springboks’ game that has caused concern. With Botha out of the team, South Africa will probably have Steenkamp, John Smit and Van der Linde in the front row when they play New Zealand in Wellington on July 5.
Van der Linde played in his 50th Test when South Africa beat Italy last week and is comfortable on either side of the front row.
Other notable omissions are those of wing Tonderai Chavhanga, hooker Schalk Brits, utility forward Danie Rossouw and outside centre Gcobani Bobo.
Brits played well when he came on as substitute against Italy, but there was always going to be room for only two hookers in the touring team.
Bobo had a good Super 14 season but he may lack the pace to compete at international level.
Adrian Jacobs and Frans Steyn are likely to compete for the No 13 jersey. Steyn did not impress at flyhalf against Italy but his versatility makes him an ideal tour player.
JP Pietersen, who was on the right wing in the World Cup final last year, is back in the squad.
Ryan Kankowski had no problem passing a medical test after being knocked out in a collision with Italian lock forward Carlo del Fava last weekend.
Kankowski is one of six Springboks who will make their first Tri-Nations tour. The others are wing Odwa Ndungane, lock Andries Bekker, Mtawarira, Mujati and loose forward Luke Watson.
The Springboks play New Zealand on July 5 in Wellington and also in Dunedin on July 12 and face Australia in Perth on July 19.
The SA squad:
Bolla Conradie, Jean de Villiers, Peter Grant, Butch James, Conrad Jantjes, Adrian Jacobs, Ricky Januarie, Bryan Habana, Percy Montgomery, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn.
Andries Bekker, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Ryan Kankowski, Tendai Mtawarira, Brian Mujati, Victor Matfield, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, John Smit (capt), Gurthrö Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Joe van Niekerk and Luke Watson.