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Arno Botha says Bulls won’t ever forget Leinster win, but ‘next job is on Saturday’ in URC final against Stormers

Arno Botha says the Bulls are firmly focused on URC final againust the Stormers. Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Arno Botha says the Bulls are firmly focused on URC final againust the Stormers. Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Jun 15, 2022


Cape Town – The heroic triumph over Leinster was definitely something that they will remember forever, says Arno Botha, but now the Bulls are bracing themselves for a “clash of the titans” in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship final against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium (7.30pm kickoff).

The 30-year-old Botha will be bidding farewell to Loftus Versfeld once more at the end of the season to play for French club Lyon, having first left Pretoria in 2018 to join London Irish first and then Munster.

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He returned to the capital city in 2020 as one of Jake White’s key signings in the coach’s plan to resurrect the Bulls, and it has paid off handsomely for the two-Test Springbok, who has tasted success twice in the Currie Cup, along with the Super Rugby Unlocked title.

The Bulls did the unthinkable to topple Leinster 27-26 in last week’s semi-final in Dublin, but they cannot afford to get caught up in that glory for too long.

The Stormers beat them home and away in the URC this season, and showed their fighting spirit in scoring after the hooter to beat Ulster 17-15 in the semi-final.

“We know that they want to make it physical upfront… they have the forwards to do that. It’s definitely something we will look into and capitalise on it. It’s also a strong point for us, to have good and dominant forwards, so it’s going to be the clash of the titans!” Botha said from Loftus on Wednesday.

“Massive effort, massive effort (against Leinster). We will definitely give glory to God for it, because things that happened in that week… I don’t want to make it spiritual, but things that happened – messages that came through, didn’t necessarily come through during the year.

“Things happened in that week that wouldn’t happen in a normal game… Guys that stepped up. I can’t give you all the info now, but a few things mentally that switched guys on. So, it was definitely something that wasn’t 100 percent in our control during the week.

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“Obviously in the game was different. We knew what we wanted to do, and the guys needed to be up for it, for 100 minutes if it comes to that. Every guy’s mentality was like that – we prepared for that. We knew afterwards that it’s just one more, just one more.

“It felt like an effort that we hadn’t given before, so it’s definitely something that we will remember forever. But like I said, it wasn’t the last one, and we wouldn’t treat it like the last one.”

Botha has been a vital cog in the Bulls loose trio as a blindside flank mainly, before also filling in at his usual No 8 position whenever Elrigh Louw has been unavailable. The double injury blow to Cyle Brink in recent months has seen Botha become a regular in the No 7 jersey, and he hopes to finish his second stint in Pretoria with another trophy before flying to France.

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“It can definitely be one of the last games (for the Bulls), depending on what happens in the Currie Cup. I am not thinking about that now, and I wouldn’t say it’s my motivation. Afterwards, I will think about it and take it all in. But for now, it’s about what we can do well this weekend. If you think about it as your last game, then sometimes there are hidden emotions that come in, which you would never show in a game,” Botha said.

“You played 40 games for the Bulls over the last two years where you didn’t have that kind of emotion, that it’s your last game. So, for me, it’s really about what I can do to help the team. I won’t use it either… I just want to give my best performance for the team and the union.

“I can’t think of any other place where I would’ve had a better time… rugby-wise, family-wise.

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“It is about the guys understanding that they can’t think too long about that (winning in Dublin). Obviously it was good for us to win the two games (playoffs), but the moment we went through our game, we realised that it’s again time to move on, and the next job is on Saturday. We all understand that, and know that that is what it’s about.”