For the Springboks his presence will bring a calmness and assurance that maybe was lacking for the matches where he was absent, but the Welsh might have been forgiven a few nervous shivers of apprehension when Bakkies Botha attended a media conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.
News 24 reports that not only is the Bok “Enforcer” back in the squad and looking fit and trim but he also means business after his absence because of a knee injury. He also made it quite clear that he is coming to the end of a long period of frustration. He is desperate to get back onto the training field, and the Welsh might well end up paying for it in Cardiff on Saturday week.
“It was extremely frustrating for me to sit and watch my Blue Bulls teammates play against the Sharks in the Currie Cup final last week, I so desperately wanted to be part of it and to be able to help them,” said Botha.
“Every sport has its injuries, and it was not nice to have to sit out after being in good form when I was injured against Argentina (in August). During the Currie Cup final my wife was worried about the mood I got myself into, she knew that I was just so desperate to be out there.
“But it was a good thing that I held myself back for another few weeks. I now feel 100% fit and recovered from the injury, my conditioning is perfect, and I feel even stronger than I did before. It is great to be back in the Bok camp, it feels like a family coming back together, and I want to give it a full go overseas, I want to be back as the enforcer, holding my own and dictating from the front.”
Botha has not trained much or taken much contact in recent months, and he was looking forward to getting in some scrumming and lineout work as the Boks began the onfield part of their preparations for the end of year tour at UCT on Wednesday afternoon. However, he is confident he will be able to slot straight back into the Bok engine room without too much problem.
Knows what to do
“I may have a bit of a problem with my match fitness when it comes to expectation to play a full 80 minutes, but I do feel I am ready to play. Because I know I have not been picking up match fitness, I have been working on doing a bit extra fitness wise. I have yet to discuss my role with the coaches. We had a meeting earlier and we are due to have more.”
Asked how Botha would be used on this tour, De Villiers gave a strong indication that he would be starting with him.
“I can tell you that we definitely haven’t brought Bakkies with us on this trip so that he can play two or three minutes of rugby. He has played this game before, he knows what to do, I don’t foresee any problems in him fitting back into the team,” said De Villiers.
Botha is one of the more experienced Bok travellers to the northern hemisphere, and he knows that with his driving style of play he will play a big role in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
“What we know is all the teams will want to make a point against the world champions so it will be important for us to physically front up to them and ensure that we get the momentum,” he said.
Botha said he had been impressed with the progress of Andries Bekker in his absence, but said he did not see individuals such as Bekker and Danie Rossouw, just the No 4 jersey that he has worn now for a good few years.
“When you have players like Danie and Andries around you playing well it just lifts you and forces you to lift yourself to new limits,” said Botha.
The Bok squad leaves for the UK on Friday night. The first Test against Wales on November 8, with the final game being the clash with England at Twickenham on November 22.
“We are not looking at the England game at this stage, we are taking it match by match. We have Wales first, and they are a good team who will be tough to crack, particularly on their home ground and in front of their own spectators.”Tweet