Bakkies will miss opener

2011-09-08 07:40

Wellington – Lock Bakkies Botha will not play for the Springboks’ opening rugby World Cup match against Wales on Sunday, South African backline coach Dick Muir confirmed today.

“I think he (Botha) will be out for this week unfortunately,” said Muir.

“He is so important to us for the remainder of the competition that we won’t take any chances with him.”

Botha is suffering from an Achilles injury, with his place in the starting line-up likely to go to the versatile Dannie Rossouw.

While Muir only confirmed the setback today, most people, including South Africa’s minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, were expecting the worst.

Prior to the team’s departure, Mbalula encouraged the them to “bliksem” their opponents and on that front Botha – known as the enforcer – was his go-to man.

“I know that he said ‘ek gaan hulle seermaak minister’, but now it is quite disappointing, but it is not the end of the road,” said Mbalula.

“I don’t think there is a player in the team that is irreplaceable. It is a big loss for now, but it is a temporary loss, and I think he will recover in time for the next games.”

Mbalula said that although Botha is one of his favourite players, he also understood that a team play is what makes the Springboks such a world class outfit.

The minister was also informed that Wales underwent two strenuous training camps in Poland ahead of the competition and that their players are in extremely good mental and physical condition.

Mbalula said none of that will matter come Sunday.

“With Mr (Rudolph) Straeuli, we went to Kamp Staaldraad and we lost badly so they can train in the mountains and train behind hippos and everything else, but what matters most is the tactics of the day.

“The best team is the one that works though a collective. I know our boys are not sissies and they have proven their worth.

“Even if you go today and say you have trained in Libya and dodged bullets, it does not mean anything.”

Mbalula said that there is a high expectancy on the team and his advise for the team was to treat every match as if it was their last.

“They must deliver the results and treat each game like it’s a final of the World Cup.”

Mbalula confirmed that President Jacob Zuma will not be attending the Boks’ match against Wales and that deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe would be there instead.

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