Springboks hard man vows not to change - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Springboks hard man vows not to change

By Daniel Gilhooly 31/07/2009 01:03:50 PM Comments (0)

Springboks lock Bakkies Botha is unrepentant over his controversial suspension last month and vows never to tone down his brutal approach to Test rugby.

Botha shapes as a central figure in the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand in Durban on Saturday, after throwing his massive frame around Bloemfontein to good effect in last weekend's win over the All Blacks.

The 29-year-old helped his pack gain the ascendancy in the trenches, where he can be an intimidating presence.

It has earned him an enforcer reputation, which he treasures dearly.

"I'm loving carrying that label, it's like Victor Matfield carrying the lineout label, that's why we're such a formidable combination (48 Tests as Springboks locks)," Botha said.

"It's what I've done for the last nine years. I'm not going to change and look for grubbers and kicks through the backline and chase them, that's not my job, okay.

"I'm just going to hit the rucks and do it 100 percent. That's the game I love."

Botha was banned for two weeks for his dangerous charge on British and Irish Lions prop Adam Jones during the second test at Pretoria.

Angry that what appeared to be a standard cleanout resulted in suspension, the Springboks players protested in the third test by wearing white armbands carrying the message "Justice 4 Bakkies".

It earned the South African Rugby Union a misconduct hearing date with the International Rugby Board.

"I know there's different opinions about the whole situation," Botha said.

"I'm not going to do anything different from any other game. I'm just going to go out and do my job 100 percent with the gift that god gave me."

Botha said his driving of Jones - whose injured shoulder ruled him out of the third test - did not differ from the technique used throughout an eight-year test career.

"If you look at the cleanouts all over the world, everybody's similar, especially for the enforcer type of role like the Brad Thorns and the (Nathan) Sharpes have.

"I've put it all behind me and I'm just happy to be on the field again and playing the game I've loved for my entire life."

Botha mentioned All Blacks lock Thorn several times when discussing an anticipated backlash from the tourists.

He believed Thorn was cut from the same intimidatory cloth, something the 34-year-old Cantabrian laughed at when it was put to him.

"We're both very good looking men. I'm not ashamed to say that," Thorn said.

South Africa: Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pieenar, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, John Smit (capt), Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Res: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jannie du Plessis, Danie Rossouw, Ryan Kankowski, Ricky Januarie, Morne Steyn, Wynand Olivier.

New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Res: Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Cory Jane.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

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