Tuesday 12 November 2019

Munster man Botha dreams of donning South African jersey again

Arno Botha. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Arno Botha. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Little did Arno Botha think when he went off with a shoulder injury in his second international appearance that he would not play for South Africa again and that the man who replaced him for his debut would lead the Springboks out in a World Cup final.

Botha, in his second season with Munster, harbours hopes of playing for the Springboks again but on Saturday he'll be in Cardiff preparing for a PRO14 clash as Siya Kolisi leads out South Africa against England in the World Cup final.

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There were just four minutes gone against Scotland in the northern South African city of Mbombela when Botha was forced to go off in June 2013, paving the way for Kolisi to make his international debut.

"I injured my shoulder in the fourth minute and he came on and got man of the match. We played under-20s together also so we know each other very well.

"I must concentrate on Munster on Saturday but I'm just excited about the players and my friends there.

"I think South Africa have a great chance, they have everything under control and I really do believe we are going to win it," said Botha, who was speaking in Limerick where it was announced that Life Style Sports will donate €5 from every Munster jersey sold in their stores and online in the build-up to Christmas to Jack and Jill Children's Foundation.

"It takes you back to '95 and 2007 and now, it brings people together. It's what we needed as a country, to see that you can do it. In '95, I was four but I've seen it and in 2007 I was at home and remember that quite well," he added.

Back-rower Botha, who joined Munster a year ago and extended his contract to the end of this season, has made 31 appearances for the province and still hopes to play for South Africa again.

"It remains very much on my radar and has been for the last two years. It obviously takes a lot of belief. I wasn't in a position to say that I'd do it because I came back from a long-term injury in 2017 and as you play and get a bit of game time, you think you might get into the World Cup squad.

"But now I'm working towards something further down the line, like next November or the Four Nations, just get into the squad anyway, but that's in my own hands, how I play. It's obviously more difficult to do it from here and they do tend to pick the South African (based) players and that's fair enough because they're the players who stayed in the country.

"But it will always be a dream to play for my country. The rule against picking players from abroad has been relaxed over the last few years," added Botha, who was 28 last week.

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