Bakkies Botha a fun read after Bok win in Wales

Nothing short of amazing. That is how Bakkies Botha described the two-week ban given to All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu last Friday after he had initially been given a moderate four-week suspension for head-butting England captain Lewis Moody.
Botha was speaking from the heart shortly after the Boks had come from behind to beat a valiant Wales team 29-25, and the initial subject was how he had endure an afternoon of pre-meditated provocation from Welsh players hoping Bakkies would lose his rag and get himself sent off.
“They had no chance,” Botha said. “I am not going to fall for that one again. I got elbows and knees and plenty of chirps in the rucks but that just made me play harder. It is about channelling my aggression in the right direction for me now. I have learned to relax and not try too hard because over-eagerness has been my downfall.
“I learned a lot from the Jimmy Cowan incident (in Auckland in July). I am just amazed that Mealamu got only two weeks on appeal. It is a shocker for me because if you look at the footage, he came from behind and butted the English captain in an act no different to what I did. And he got only two weeks?”
Botha, who got eight weeks for his sins, then shakes his head and adds: “but that is somebody’s else’s battle – staying out of trouble and helping the Boks win games is what concerns me.”
Bakkies has only one focus these days and that is making up for lost time in the Springbok jersey and doing his country proud.
“On the morning of the game my three-year-old son, Klein Bakkies, phoned me. He said he was not going to have his afternoon sleep because he could not wait to see Dad on the TV. How could I let him down? I missed his birthday party last week already. No way, I understand better these days that I am a role model to children all over South Africa.”
During the Lions series last year, Bakkies and Wales scrumhalf Mike Phillips had their tiffs and after one tussle in the second Test Bakkies wound up to punch him and then disarmed him completely by asking for a kiss.
“I cleaned him out strongly at one ruck and when he climbed to his feet he blew me a kiss. I thought that was quite funny.”
Apart from that it was war. The Springbok pack was rattled in the first half and then fought back well in the second. The Boks took the lead for the first time midway through the second half and then spent the final quarter defending for their lives.
“There was pressure in that first half and they were cutting us up at the back. At half time my feeling was that Wales had given everything, we had their kitchen sink and all! We just had to stay calm and at the same time lift our intensity,” he said. “And the points came when we started holding onto the ball and working hard to get momentum.”
As for the final crazy minutes of prolonged defence, Bakkies says: “I reckon my tongue is going to hang out of my mouth when I see the tackle count. You know you have character in your team when the guys make a tackle and then get straight back up and race back into line, ready to make another.
“It is defence like that which lays down a marker for the World Cup,” he adds. “Wales play us in the first round and they will remember that they could not break us when it really mattered.”
So the Boks ended up with the Prince Of Wales Cup in their changing room at the Millennium Stadium, and nobody was happier than Bakkies.
“It is not been a good year for me. That was the first silverware I had seen this year. I did not play in the Super 14 final and we got knocked out of the Currie Cup.
“I guess you can same I am rejuvenated,” Bakkies says. “These tour wins mean so much to me. So does showing the youngsters the ropes. The way we have fought so hard for our wins is important because the youngsters see the old guns putting their bodies on the line.
“Now the Wales door is closed and we march on to Scotland, and it will be more of the same for us up front. They have a good pack, and that is fine because personally I know I have a lot more to give now that I am getting back into the swing of it.”
by Mike Greenaway

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