Munster loose forward Arno Botha has not given up hope of playing for the Springboks again.
Botha joined Munster from London Irish, linking up with former Bulls and Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan as well as junior teammate CJ Stander.
Botha earned the last of his two Bok caps in 2013, when a knee injury stalled his progress, but has refused to draw a line under his Test career.
‘To stay in Europe is the goal,’ Botha told the media in Ireland. ‘I know if I’m good enough, I can still make the South African squad and make that team. But again it’s a case of having respect for players who stay [in South Africa].
‘It would be great to play for South Africa again, but at the moment it is not something I think of daily. Their season is also over and only starts again in June, and I know that Rassie [Erasmus] has been working with a plan working towards the World Cup.
‘Rassie has been working with a lot of those guys in his career and he has a plan. If I can make it playing out of Europe, it would be the perfect world.’
The 27-year-old has started the last couple of Pro14 matches and impressed in the absence of Stander, but with the Ireland international back from Test duty, he knows he has to work hard to retain his place.
‘We played 2011 in the Currie Cup and for the U20s, 21s and won a trophy together,’ Botha said on his relationship with Stander. ‘We weren’t really good friends then, but we are now. We speak and joke a lot about that.
‘You have to respect the guys here, the loose forwards, especially Pete [O’Mahony] and CJ being British & Irish Lions players. It’s not every guy who can say he is that. You have to respect that, and then do what you can do and make the team better and make myself better to make that starting lineup.
‘Of course the competition is tough, but I don’t think about it like that,’ Botha added ‘At Munster, we try to make the team better and if I can do that in any way I can, then I will do so.’