Back at Loftus, The Bulls’ Arno Botha is ready to lock horns, Newsline

DURBAN – The Bulls will be ready to rumble when they host Superfan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld this weekend, according to flanker Arno Botha who offers this advice to his teammates: “Don’t overthink playing again after a long break – just go out and do it!”

Botha is back at Loftus after a three-year stint overseas at first London Irish and then Munster, and he reckons getting on the field and playing rugby is the best way to get “contact fit”.

Many have been worried that South Africa’s players run the risk of injury when rugby resumes on Saturday because they have not had enough contact training, but Botha is not one of them.

“You need two or three weeks of contact training and then my feeling is that another few weeks won’t make much difference – the best way to get rugby ready is to play,” the 28-year-old said. “You never simulate full contact against your teammates in training. I think we have had enough time and Jake (White) has integrated us back into contact perfectly. We have had a good plan. I feel fine and ready to go.”

Botha is one of a host of burly ball carriers that coach White has brought back to South Africa to transform a Bulls forward pack that was ineffectual in Super Rugby earlier this year.

“Jake called me in April and spoke of his plans for the Bulls,” Botha says. “I liked what I heard and got interested, and before long it became a reality. Also, I have a dream to play for South Africa still and there is no better chance than this one at this point in my career, so that is why I took the chance in coming back. It meant a lot to me that Jake is backing me to make a difference at the Bulls.”

Botha played twice for the Boks under Heyneke Meyer in 2013 but tore knee ligaments against Scotland in a Test match in Nelspruit. He was out of rugby for six months and subsequently suffered another long-term injury.

“The lighter side of having had those injuries is that I am used to have six-month breaks from rugby, so this lockdown break hasn’t bugged me,” Botha joked.

Mike Greenaway