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VIDEO – Botha expects arduous homecoming

01 June 2012

  • Lock well aware of what lies ahead for England
  • There are a lot of men getting ready to smash each other up. That's what I love – Botha

Despite acknowledging that Sunday’s helter-skelter run-out against the Barbarians may have helped the England squad with their fitness levels, Mouritz Botha has confirmed that an altogether tougher test lies in wait over the coming month in South Africa.

The Saracens lock was a prominent figure in the 57-26 victory over the invitational side last weekend at Twickenham, but refused to dwell on the free-flowing, one-sided contest.

“It was a really different game, frustrating in a way,” said Botha. “I normally feel good afterwards if there are a lot of rucks to hit or tackles to be made but Sunday didn’t allow that. There were a lot more running opportunities and more ball-in-hand stuff.

“It was extremely hot and the lungs felt it at times but that was a good way to prepare for the next few weeks. All in all, we are just happy that the team put in a good shift and there is something to build.”

Having grown up in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal before moving to these shores in 2004, Botha knows the demands of South African rugby far better than most and, speaking at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday, the 30 year-old outlined the fierce assignment that Stuart Lancaster’s charges must overcome.

Mouritz Botha surveys the field during England's 57-26 win over the Barbarians

Photo: Getty Images

“It is going to be by far the biggest challenge we have faced as a group,” he explained. “We will have to be ready.

“For me, it is quite a surreal feeling but I am looking forward to getting out there. In a way I feel like I am representing two countries so the best way to do that is to play well.

“I am not looking to prove a point at all. I just want to make people that know me proud because of the way I perform.”

Botha finished by responding to the assertion of former Springbok captain John Smit, who suggested at the final whistle of the Barbarians match that England would be drawn into “warfare” over the course of their tour.

“Those guys are going to be fired up, but that isn’t any different to a lot of countries,” he added. “There are a lot of men with too much testosterone getting ready to smash each other up. That’s what I love – you want to go out there and have a physical confrontation.

“After that you feel good and shake your opponent’s hand. It gets left on the field and everybody is satisfied.

“[In South Africa] the pitches are hard and you always have grazes on your knees and elbows. For that reason, you have to be prepared to put your body on the line. You are going to fall, and are going to fall hard.”