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Rugby Championship
Botha rubbishes reported Bok ban
ESPN Staff
September 12, 2012
Toulon's Bakkies Botha claims a lineout ball, Racing Metro v Toulon, Top 14, Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes, France, August 25, 2012
Bakkies Botha insists his club have not imposed a ban on him joining up with the Springboks © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Bakkies Botha
Tournaments/Tours: Top 14 Orange | Rugby Championship
Teams: South Africa | Toulon

Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has dismissed reports that his Top 14 club have ruled out the possibility of him joining up with the South Africa squad ahead of their Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand on Saturday.

Botha, who made the last of his 76 Test appearances at last year's Rugby World Cup before moving to France, looked set for a surprise return to the international stage after Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer put him on standby in the wake of a two-week suspension for second row Eben Etzebeth.

Toulon boss Bernard Laporte then appeared to put a block on any such move with reports suggesting he was adamant the 32-year-old would be in Top 14 action on Friday night and not preparing to tackle the All Blacks in Dunedin. Several media reports yesterday quoted Laporte as saying: "Bakkies will be in a Toulon jersey on Friday and not that of South Africa on Saturday."

However, Botha has since dismissed any suggestion that his club prevented him from linking up with his national side. "Reports suggesting that my Club and/ or Coach prevents me to play for the Springboks are untrue," he wrote on Twitter.

Reflecting on his possible return to Bok colours, Botha had earlier commented: "It's been all over the newspapers that I might go to New Zealand, but I still don't know for sure yet. I'm still training with the guys in Toulon. As soon as I get the call from the Springbok management team, I'll jump on a plane to Dunedin."

"Every game in the green and gold jersey will be a bonus for me, and it will feel like the first Test because it's always special for me to play for my country. I've been playing for the Springboks for 10 years now, and obviously I'm not getting any younger, so I'm going to cherish that."

"It's an honour to be involved, whether they use me on the bench or anywhere else, I'll be happy."

Meyer has since named his side to take on the All Blacks with Flip van der Merwe set to fill the void left by Etzebeth and Andries Bekker providing cover on the bench.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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