Europe then Lions for James

Springbok fly-half Butch James would love to follow up a crucial Heineken Cup win over Toulouse this weekend with a place in the Springbok squad to face the Lions later this summer. [more]

Europe then Lions for James

Springbok fly-half Butch James would love to follow up a crucial Heineken Cup win over Toulouse this weekend with a place in the Springbok squad to face the Lions later this summer.

The Bath playmaker was a World Cup winner with the Boks in 2007 but has now fallen behind Ruan Pienaar in his country’s pecking order.

With Bath facing French giants Toulouse in a top-of-the-table clash live on Sky television at The Rec on Sunday afternoon, James hopes a home win and an impressive individual performance will satisfy club and country.

"It’s always nice if your game is on Sky. Hopefully the selectors and coaches back home can have a look," said James, who is in his second season with Bath but is experiencing his first taste of Heineken Cup rugby.

"When a team’s doing well, it’s always a lot easier for the individual so I just hope we as a team keep doing well so all of us can get high honours."

Club rugby may be foremost in his mind this weekend but the 30-year-old former Sharks star admits he is desperate to return to Springbok colours when the Lions arrive in South Africa in four months time.

"I’d obviously love to play against the Lions," explained James, who wasn’t included in the Boks’ November tour squad and was rested by Bath during the same period.

"At the moment, I’m just trying to get through the weekend and get a good result. One of my goals has always been to play against the Lions so I’ll be hoping to crack the nut there.

"I think the Lions are going to be good this year and it’s going to be a really exciting series. I think it’s going to be really close."



Butch James wants to face the Lions with the world cahmpion Springboks

Having stated that being part of a Lions tour is something that would rank as one of the highlights of his international career, James clearly shares similar feelings about the importance of Sunday’s encounter with Toulouse when it comes to his domestic ambitions.

"These are the games you really look forward to. These are the games you sign with clubs for, to play against the top guys. Obviously, you look forward to every game but when you are playing the best team in Europe, it’s a really exciting feeling.

"The Heineken Cup has lived up to my expectations so far. We’re not quite finished with it this year and we’re hoping to go a bit further.

"That’s going to be the really exciting part, the knockout stages where it’s a must-win game every weekend. It’s been great so far but I’m looking forward to seeing what it feels like in the play offs."

Bath, who currently lead Toulouse by a single point at the top of Pool 5, came within minutes of recording a famous victory in the away leg at the Stade Toulousain back in October and James believes that experience will enhance their chances of a vital victory this time around.

"Although we lost, we learnt a lot from it and hopefully we can get the result this weekend.

"There was a lot of disappointment but there was a good feeling also. We took a fairly inexperienced side there, with a few youngsters and a few guys that hadn’t really played against Toulouse so to come so close really gave them a lift to believe in themselves and see what a good side we can be."

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