Botha tips Flip to replace Big Vic

Date published: July 21 2015

Bakkies Botha has backed Flip van der Merwe to step up after he was called into the Springbok squad in place of the Victor Matfield.

The Springbok skipper was injured during South Africa's loss to Australia last week, leaving Heyneke Meyer short of options in a position where the squad was already very thin.

As a result van der Merwe has been called in, having been absent from the squad earlier this season because of a dispute with the SARU.

That looks to be behind him, and having played alongside the Bulls lock for the World XV a fortnight ago, Botha believes van der Merwe will be able to slot straight in and play a major role, with New Zealand next up in Johannesburg this weekend.

"I remember a very funny moment when the Springboks played against the World XV two weeks ago," said Botha.

"When Flip came off the bench for the first time, he immediately went into the lineout. And on the Springboks’ throw, he managed to sneak in ahead of Victor to steal the ball.

"That just shows the value Flip can add. He’s played many games for the Springboks and his experience at the highest level can help the team. He adds value as a No 4 or 5 lock, which is great versatility to have in the team. He also showed great form during the Springboks’ European Tour last year, making big tackles and offering the team a quality lineout option.

"I’m not sure what the issues were around Flip’s omission in the first place, but hopefully that’s sorted out and everyone can move forward."