Butch looks to come home and play his way into Bok World Cup squad

2010-12-24 00:00

SPRINGBOK flyhalf Butch James has his sights set on the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year and wants to return to South Africa in the middle of next year.

The former Sharks flyhalf, who played a prominent role in the Springboks’ 2007 RWC triumph in France, still has a year left of his current contract with English club Bath.

However, the 31-year-old James told the BBC this week that he hopes to gain an early release to return to South Africa at the end of the European season in June.

James has had four seasons with the English club, but said that there were a couple of reasons for wanting to leave the club and settle back in South Africa.

“The Rugby World Cup is one of them,” he said. “I’m not too sure how much longer these legs have in them and I want at least one season at home before retiring.”

The Golden Lions, the province with the deepest pockets in South African rugby, are expected to sign James for the Currie Cup, and the burly flyhalf will hope to play his way into the Springbok World Cup squad.

James indicated earlier this year that he would like to return to Durban, but the Sharks could not meet the transfer fee initially requested by Bath and the Lions are now likely to outbid them. The Sharks now also have two talented flyhalves — Pat Lambie and Jacques-Louis Potgieter — on their books.

The Golden Lions, bankrolled by billionaire IT entrepreneur Robert Gumede, are also chasing Racing Metro and Springbok fullback/centre, Frans Steyn and Sharks prop Beast Mtawarira and have already signed Rory Kockott, Bandise Maku, Michael Rhodes, Lionel Mapoe, Michael Bondesio and Pat Cilliers.

James, who injured his shoulder playing off the bench in the Tri-Nations, finally returned to action for Bath at the weekend in the Heineken Cup.

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