Lions supporters will gain a close-up look at the form of giant Springbok lock Bakkies Botha after it was announced that the 29-year-old is now expected to feature on South Africa’s November tour of the United Kingdom.
Botha, who has formed an impressive international partnership with fellow second row Victor Matfield, has been out of action since sustaining knee ligament damage in the victory over Argentina at the beginning of August.
World Cup winner Botha missed the Boks’ final three Tri Nations fixtures, including the 50-point thrashing of Australia, and had been a doubt for his country’s forthcoming clashes with Wales, Scotland and England.
However, Springbok convenor of selectors Peter Jooste has stated that, "Bakkies should be available to tour”.
Fortunately for Botha and the Boks, his injury simply required extensive rehabilitation as opposed to surgery.
The news follows the return of inspirational captain John Smit and is another boost to a Springbok squad already preparing for next year’s visit of the Lions.
Despite the emergence of young pretender Andries Bekker during Botha’s enforced absence, the 52-times-capped Blue Bull is considered a more than likely starter for the World Champions when the Lions come calling in nine months’ time.
A hugely experienced player, Botha has been a Springbok for close to six years and has featured in successive World Cups.