I am not a thug, says Bakkies

2012-01-07 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has called on French officials to judge him on his actions, not his supposed reputation for being a dirty player.

The Springbok veteran made his Top 14 debut last weekend in Toulon’s 25-6 defeat to relegation-threatened Biarritz, having arrived in France following the World Cup to start a three-year deal with RCT.

Despite his colourful disciplinary record, the 32-year-old insists that his love for the physical side of the game does not necessarily make him a villain.

“I am not a thug. I love the battle, that’s all,” the 76-Test cap second rower told Midi Olympique.

Botha used two anecdotes from his past to illustrate how his reputation has a habit of proceeding him.

“I was given a three-week suspension a few years ago for pushing [Australia flank] Phil Waugh at a ruck,” he explained.

“When it came to the disciplinary hearing, the judge asked me how many times I had been cited in my life. I told the truth — once. He did not believe me and asked me if I had personal problems, if I hit my kids … It was ridiculous.

“People are wrong about me. I do not eat children.

“In the Currie Cup my opponents used to target me. One day, [Sharks lock] AJ Venter was trying to make me lose my temper. At every scrum [referee] Craig Joubert was saying to me: ‘Stay with me, Bakkies. Nothing will happen to you.’”

Botha has made helping Toulon qualify for the Heineken Cup his primary target and hoped to repay the faith put in him by club president Mourad Boudjellal.

“I want Toulon to qualify for the Heineken Cup next year. I want to be part of that success,” he explained.

“Four years ago, I was on the verge of signing with Toulon. However, we couldn’t break my contract with the Bulls and it ended in court where I lost.

“So I was delighted when Mourad Boudjellal came after me again two years later. That tells me that he is a man of his word. Last year, I had other contract offers in Europe, but I chose Toulon out of respect for him.”

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