- Mouritz Botha chats exclusively to RFU.com about his bid for Rugby World Cup slot
- Lock in form of his life after Aviva Premiership and Churchill Cup wins
Photo: Getty Images
Mouritz Botha feels the invaluable confidence and momentum gained from a trophy-laden period has left him in a good place to show his best form in the second stint of the Rugby World Cup training camp.
The 29-year-old’s inspiring journey through English grassroots rugby has culminated in a place Martin Johnson’s training squad, primarily on the back of a two major trophies in the last two months for the South African-born lock.
After helping Saracens win the 2011 Aviva Premiership title with a 22-18 victory over Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in his second successive Premiership Final, Botha’s startling shock of blond hair became a notable feature of England Saxons’ triumphant Churchill Cup campaign.
All 45-players selected in the Rugby World Cup training squad will reconvene at Pennyhill Park this weekend after a week off and Botha believes he is in a good place to fight for a seat on the plane to New Zealand.
"I feel that I’m in the form of my life – a lot in rugby relies on confidence and momentum and I think I’ve got both at the moment," he said.
"We had a successful season with Saracens which ended with me starting in the final and winning the Premiership. Then obviously being involved in a very successful campaign for the Saxons.
"I’m very excited about the opportunity I have and I would love to be on the plane to New Zealand.
"I know that everybody does not have a clean slate because people come in with different amounts of experience but I want to continue working hard and bring to the party what I know I can."
Photo: Getty Images
With four other specialist locks – Louis Deacon, Courtney Lawes, Tom Palmer and Simon Shaw – to compete against, Botha knows he must stand out in the coming weeks.
The 6’ 6”, 18-stone forward topped the tackle count and hit the most rucks in England Saxons’ victory over Tonga at the Churchill Cup in June, and he explained how his mentality on the pitch leads to high-intensity performances.
Also, mentioning how he is relishing the personal guidance of Martin Johnson, Botha added: "Work rate is one of the things I pride myself on , I think I cover a good amount of ground during a game.
"I’m a reasonably mobile second row and I like being all over the field. I really enjoy playing rugby so playing with high intensity really excites me.
"If you play with high tempo, work rate just comes naturally. You’ve got to have that feeling that you want to tackle everything and hit every ruck and then your stats will be high.
"I massively respect and admire Martin Johnson as a player in my position, he does the monitoring for the second rows and then gives feedback. I definitely want to continue learning as much as I can and get better as a player over the next few weeks."