Bakkies ready to roll

2011-09-15 07:15

A week ago there were fears that he may not feature in the Rugby World Cup, but Springbok lock Bakkies Botha has since made a miraculous recovery from an Achilles injury and is now ready to roll.

“I still feel a little bit of a stiffness, but it is like those old farm vehicles in the morning: it smokes a bit, but if you drive it around for half an hour then it is hot and it can go, so hopefully everything will run smoothly for me,” Botha said today.

On Monday Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said that he doubted that the big lock forward would be fit to play this weekend, and that he was far more concerned about him than the other players who picked up injuries in the team’s 17-16 victory over Wales.

“He (Botha) hasn’t responded as well as we anticipated. We are still working on it and we haven’t made a decision in terms of how we are going to continue with him at this stage,” said Roberts.

On the same day that fellow lock Johann Muller, who was included on the bench for Saturday’s match against Fiji, limped off the field with a hamstring injury, Botha managed to run with less discomfort.

“I just gave it a go on Tuesday morning and I was just happy to go thought the training session, so I’m back and I’m quite happy where I am,” Botha said.

He also had no doubts that he would be his normal physical self.

“I know I am ready for this weekend, so it doesn’t matter what happened on the positive side or the negative side, I truly believe that when you pull on a green-and-gold jersey you must give 100% and that is what I’m gonna give.”

Looking ahead to the challenge of facing a team that loves to give the ball some air, Botha’s team mate, Schalk Burger, said that Fiji’s locks are just as fast as some of their wings.

The man who is known as the Springboks’ enforcer said that their pace does not concern him. “I saw their number four went down the touchline against Namibia and dummying inside and pop passing for the scrumhalf or the wing, but we know Fiji had those types of players from number one.

“They are very versatile and athletic, but we are just going to stick with what works for us come lineouts, scrums and as long as we just stick to our plan and what we want to do this weekend and do it to 100% of our ability we believe we can have a good day at the office.”

What will be a very rare situation for the Bok lock, who is due to earn his 76th cap, is that he will be partnering Danie Rossouw in the second row.

This leaves the Springboks with two of the most intimidating locks in world rugby at their disposal. The question, however, will be whether the defending champions will be as dominant in the lineouts as they usually are when Victor Matfield is in the team.

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