Sharks best yet to come

BJ Botha, a rock in the stern engine-room of the Sharks, hopes to recover in time from an ankle injury for Saturday’s clash with the Cheetahs. The tighthead believes that the unbeaten Sharks side are still to hit full stride in Super 14 2007.

Botha missed Saturday’s breathtaking defeat of the Crusaders after withdrawing right before the game, being hindered by a sore ankle.

“I will work through the injury this week, and if it’s 100 percent by the weekend I’ll play – I’m confident it will be.”

Botha’s presence was clearly missed on Saturday, for although the promising ‘Beast’ Mtawaira put in a heartening performance, the grit of Botha upfront is not something easily replaced.

The regular tighthead says that the Durban side enjoyed the win, but there are definitely improvements still to be made.

“The mood is good after the win, but we also know that we left the victory a bit late and that there squandered opportunities.

“Obviously, we’ll take the win, but we will also take a look at ourselves because we want to play to our potential.”

The Sharks are the only remaining unbeaten side so far in this year’s competition, and Botha attributes this to the atmosphere within the camp.

“We are all playing for each other, and everybody is willing to put their body on the line for one another. There is a family atmosphere here at the Sharks, which means that right from the management everybody is willing to put in that extra time if it’s helpful to the cause.

“We are winning games, but we haven’t hit our best form yet. But each game that we win helps.”

Botha has a similar attitude to his own form.

“There is always room for improvements. One’s form is an ongoing process, and I never say I am happy with it, because you can always do better.”

Last year Botha gained his first Test cap, and cracked the big time after five years of Super rugby. But Botha does not note any major change to his approach to the game, and it is an approach that has not changed since he tasted international rugby.

“I just continuously try to improve my game. Every player has the urge to play for South Africa and it’s about always being on your game and then the break coming your way.

“It’s also not just about you. I can’t perform without my hooker, my lock and my flank performing too. The team plays a huge role.”

Botha lists World Cup-winning tighthead Balie Swart as one of the many coaching influences who has improved his game, also noting the recent influence of John Plumtree upon the tight game of the Sharks, but is quick to point out that there have been so many positive influences that it is almost unfair to single specific people out.

“My father has always been such a positive influence on my career, always being somebody who is able to be completely honest about my performances.

I have always had great support from my wife and the rest of my family. It is something you really appreciate.”

 

365 Digital

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