• Botha to replace Spies

    Arno Botha is the favourite to start at No 8 for the Vodacom Bulls in Super Rugby this year.

    Botha has earned 33 Super Rugby caps for the Bulls since making his debut in 2012, but injuries in recent years have delayed his progress at Super Rugby and Test levels. He made his Springbok debut in 2013, but two serious knee injuries [in 2013 and 2014] kept him out of action.

    He also had to compete for a starting spot with former Bok No 8 Pierre Spies. However, with Spies no longer contracted to the Bulls, Botha is ready to put in a big showing for the Pretoria-based side in 2016. He has also been working with new Bulls fitness guru Neil du Plessis to improve his fitness levels for the upcoming season.

    ‘I struggled with aches and pains last year [2015] and it was my goal to get my conditioning to 100% in the off-season,’ Botha told Die Burger. ‘Neil du Plessis gave me good guidance and I feel stronger, faster and fitter [than last year].

    ‘I realise no matter how fit you are, you will only be measured by what you accomplish on the field. I really hope I can start well and get going [this year].’

    The Bulls play their first Super Rugby match against the Stormers on 27 February at Newlands.

    Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix