Bakkies never gave up on Boks

Date published: November 16 2013

Veteran Springbok lock Bakkies Botha insists he never gave up on playing for his country when he moved to Toulon two years ago.

Veteran Springbok lock Bakkies Botha insists he never gave up on playing for his country when he moved to Toulon two years ago.

The 34-year-old, who has 76 caps, last played for South Africa at the 2011 World Cup, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has given the 2007 World Cup-winner a chance to revive his international career.

Botha is anticipating a tough recall to Test rugby when the Springboks face Scotland at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on Sunday.

“The Scottish team ended third in the Six Nations last year and they are a phenomenal side,” said Botha.

“Now recently a lot of Scottish players are playing in the French league as well, especially in the lock position like Richie Gray, so that makes them a good side as well.”

While South Africa will kick off as favourites, Botha said the memory of playing in Scotland's 21-17 win over the Springboks at Murrayfield in 2010 would guard against complacency.

“I remember the Test match when I was last involved with the Springboks, the Scottish are very physical at the breakdowns and definitely, when their tails are up, it's a difficult side to keep with on the day.”

Botha insisted he never gave up hope of playing for his country again.

“I'm more happy about it than surprised. The day when I left for France two years ago I always said to myself every morning when I get up and go to the gym in Toulon, I still want to play in the green and gold.”

Meyer, asked whether Botha would be part of his long-term planning for the 2015 World Cup in England, replied: “I first want to see if he's still good enough to play for South Africa. We want to see what he can do.”

Scotland, under the charge of interim head coach Scott Johnson, have recalled their chief breakdown operator, openside flanker John Barclay replacing captain Kelly Brown in the number seven jersey.

Johnson has made five other changes to the Scotland team that beat Japan.

Props Alasdair Dickinson and Moray Low, and locks Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray come into the home pack, while Duncan Taylor replaces the injured Matt Scott at inside centre, a first start for the Saracens utility back. Gray's uncapped 19-year-old brother and fellow lock Jonny is on the bench.

“Generating competition for spots is what we're about in this series,” said Johnson.

“You need to do it sometime and we are going to do it now. We are 22 months out from the World Cup and there has to be growth in this team,” the Australian added.