Botha driven by consequences of failure
October 4, 2011
Bakkies Botha has had his injury problems during the Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Bakkies Botha has revealed that he and a number of his South Africa team-mates are particularly pumped up for this weekend's Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with Australia because they know that defeat could spell the end of their Test careers.
The influential lock is now 32 and accepts that the Springboks will place an emphasis on youth after the tournament as they look to build towards 2015. Botha is not the only player in the squad vulnerable to the likely changing of the guard, with John Smit and Victor Matfield also in the twilight of their international careers.
Consequently, there is a desire among the more senior members of the Springbok panel to prolong their interest in the tournament with a win over the Wallabies.
"A lot of the guys know it can be their last game and the team that loses this weekend is on their way home, so we know what we must produce," Botha said.
"A handful of us have been around the block for nine, 10 years and the big secret for us is to focus on the weekend. When you pull that green and gold jersey on you must give it all and we are not holding back one inch. We know from this weekend the intensity is going to get higher and the pressure as well."
Botha has struggled with injury in New Zealand, having first suffered a recurrence of an Achilles problem before then being struck down by a hamstring strain, and he admits that he does not make for a good spectator.
"You don't know how frustrating it is," he said. "It is all the physical battles I missed against Wales and Samoa. When I was sitting in the stand I just wanted to take off my No.1 jacket (Springbok blazer) and get stuck into it.
"Now I am feeling 100 percent and must hit the ground running. I am happy to be back. As long as I can give something back to the Springbok team I will be happy if I can make a difference."
Indeed, Botha is desperate to play against an Australian side which defeated the Boks home and away in this year's Tri-Nations.
"Since Robbie Deans took over (as Wallabies coach), the Australia pack of the last two or three years have picked up their physicality a lot, as we saw in the Tri Nations," he said.
"You cannot play Test rugby if you have not got a pack that dominates physically and this weekend's battle will be physical as well. We must get on the pitch, do our best and have a good day at the office.
"Every Test match is a clash of the packs of forwards, where we make a few deals and everything in the rucks, sorting each other out.
"We know that a Test match against Australia is a physical battle and that's the first battle we must win to put our backline on the front foot."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales