Cape Town - Bakkies the Enforcer is back in the Bok frame. “You can't be serious!” might well have been a common response on Monday when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer surprised by placing the tough lock on standby for the SA team to play New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.
It was an emergency measure to cover for the possibility of incumbent No 4 lock Eben Etzebeth being banned for a head-butt on Australia’s Nathan Sharpe in the Springboks’ 26-19 defeat in Perth on Saturday.
Etzebeth copped a two-week ban on Monday, meaning Botha will likely have to make a trip to the Antipodes from Toulon in France, where he is playing club rugby, having quit the international scene last year after earning his 76th cap at the World Cup.
Whereas many would have thought Botha was past his sell-by date wearing the green-and-gold jersey, others may rate the former Bulls bruiser as having a decent chance at starting in the clash against the All Blacks, who lead the table in the four-team Championship tournament.
But Meyer knows what he has in Botha, who played for him for several years in a successful Bulls line-up.
The locks already in the travelling squad are Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger, who might be seen as the likely starting pair, as well as Andries Bekker, who is seemingly out of favour with Meyer.
But don’t bet against Botha starting in the No 4 jersey, with Van der Merwe to come on as an impact substitute…
He is not the only supposedly over-the-hill sportsman to make a famous comeback.
When he was signed by West Ham, Benni McCarthy was in a bad way, his ambitious eating projects casting a shadow over his football career. He fell through the ranks, spurned by Blackburn and shunned by the Hammers.
But Orlando Pirates saw some life in the old hand and signed the striker to spearhead their attacks. Just last weekend McCarthy, due to his prolific goal-scoring record, was restored to the ranks of Bafana Bafana when they played Brazil.
But staying true to his character, he couldn’t resist picking up a hamstring injury on his way out.
Michael Schumacher had closed the bonnet on his Formula 1 career, replacing the race track with obtuse conversations about cars and hair loss when he made a cameo appearance on motoring programme Top Gear. But Jeremy Clarkson’s perm and Richard Hammond’s smirk probably drove him away from TV studios, because he returned to Formula 1 in 2009 racing for Ferrari’s German rivals.
Jonah Lomu, the massive New Zealand rugby player famous for his four-try demolition of England in 1995, had his career cut short when he contracted kidney disease in 2002. After a kidney transplant his weight ballooned and he was unable to hold on to his spot in the sport. But in 2009, two years after his official retirement, the mammoth All Black got himself into shape and joined French third division side Marseille-Vitrolles.