Bakkies Botha says he is at peace with his decision to retire from international rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The former Springbok lock announced his retirmement after the Boks’ victory over Italy last November, concluding an illustrious Test career that spanned 85 matches.
South African rugby fans will have one last opportunity to see Botha in action, albeit in the opposite camp, when the 35-year-old features for the World XV in Saturday’s clash against the Springboks at Newlands.
However, Botha reiterated that there was no temptation to re-consider his decision to retire despite talk that he had been asked to keep in shape just in case his services were required at the World Cup later this year.
‘I have peace of mind to walk away from the game, and with that inner-peace, I’m happy. A lot of guys don’t get to walk away on their own terms. I’m a very religious man, and I asked God for one or two more chances to play for the Boks, and he ended up giving me nine more Tests [between the end of 2013 and last year].
‘There was talk that I should keep the door open just in case, but for me I knew enough was enough. I’m happy to end things on my terms and now I can just turn my attention to supporting the Boks whole-heartedly.’
His long-time second row partner, Victor Matfield, looks set to conclude his career at the World Cup after coming out of retirment last year.
Botha said he still believed Matfield could add immense value to the Boks.
‘It doesn’t matter if Victor is 27 or 37. He’s the type of guy who just brings calmness to the players around him, and especially at the lineouts. He’s still a phenomenal player and athlete. I heard of the team doing fitness sessions with Victor running at the front. It just shows the passion and drive he still has in him. I think he has an important role to play with the experience he has. I can’t wait for the day to see him bring back the Webb Ellis Cup.’
Botha has now handed over the No 4 jersey and role of enforcer to young Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth, who he regards highly.
‘Eben is a world-class player, he’s young in age but he already has over 30 caps and is actually an experienced player … For me, I’ve achieved everything I wanted to in my career. I have nothing more to prove, and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just want to enjoy this Saturday’s game.’
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images