Vodacom Bulls loose forward Arno Botha says he is looking forward to catching up with his old teammates when Munster travel to Pretoria for the first Vodacom United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It has been just over a year since Botha returned to Loftus from Munster, where he was a key player under former Bulls assistant coach Johann van Graan.
The 30-year-old has won back-to-back Currie Cup titles in his second stint with the Bulls, but says he still has fond memories of his time in Limerick, where he found a second wind in his career after a couple of long injury spells on the sidelines.
“I know quite a few of the guys, and I remain friends with quite a few of them. So, it will be quite awesome to catch up with them,” Botha said.
“My time at Munster was probably one of the best of my life. Not because it’s Munster, but because I actually played a lot of rugby there. It was a different challenge for me, my first time overseas, so I embraced everything that came with that opportunity.
“I played a lot of rugby and learned a lot about rugby. I was fortunate enough to work with good coaches. That is something I took to heart and meant a lot to me, and obviously getting my career back on track.”
Munster have won four of their five opening matches in the URC and currently sit third on the log, so Botha is expecting a tough encounter on Saturday night.
“The quality of rugby will definitely be good. Munster has very high standards and they have really good depth. That is something we really need to focus on,” he explained.
“It won’t be just another day at the office. We will have to get out there and do an equally good job. They have a good structure with Johann [van Graan], JP [Ferreira], Stephan [Larkham] and Graham [Rowntree] – it’s a structure that is easy to fit into and play a good game, no matter who is in the jersey for Munster.
“Playing them now has no feelings of hate. We play the game because we enjoy it, we want to get better, and we want to challenge each other. I’m sure that is a mutual feeling on their side as well – like coach Johann coming back to Loftus.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s match is at 7:45pm
Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix