Butch James wants the Sprinbok No.10 jersey

Former Springbok flyhalf says that he wants the fly half jersey back for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand which starts in September.


Four years ago James was battling for the fly half jersey with Andre Pretorius but he won the battle and South Africa won the world cup.


Four years later and just over three months before the Rugby World Cup Morne Steyn is the incumbent Sprinbok flyhalf but there is plenty of competition for his back up.


James is still in the running but there are also names like Patrick Lambie, Peter Grant and Elton Jantjies who are all strong contenders to go to the world cup.


“There’s even more competition now for that jersey than there was four years ago. There’s Morne, Pat is up there and even Peter Grant still has a chance … he’s been playing great rugby.


“And Elton Jantjies, too, has been in the picture, even though he may still be a bit young,” says James.


“The situation as it stands now is very similar to 2007; the only difference is then there were two guys competing, now there are three,” he says, referring to himself, Steyn and Lambie.


In many people’s eyes James should be starting ahead of Steyn as he has more experience and he has regularly featured in coach Peter de Villiers’ squads over the last few years and this in spite of him playing in England.


James however says that he is no further ahead than anyone else in contention for the number 10 jersey.


“I don’t think I’m in a more favourable position to the other guys … there are still some games to be played before the World Cup comes along and a lot can happen in that time.


“There’s still everything to play for but, I’ll be honest, I’m hoping to be the number one, the first choice.”


“It’s always much nicer to run on to the field for a Test than to come on halfway through.” he told IOL.


“The fact I’ve been considered for the squad even though I’ve been based overseas and have only had a handful of games in Super Rugby is very reassuring … I know I’ve got a good chance, but I also know it’s in my hands.”


James recently returned to South Africa and played for the Lions in Super Rugby but some old habits returned and his performance was overshadowed by a dangerous tackle on Keegan Daniel, something that cost him 10 minutes in the sin-bin and later a four-week suspension.


Former Springbok great Naas Botha slammed James for the incident and said, “Butch did not play badly (against the Sharks), but his tackling cost him and the Lions.


“It’s the kind of incident that can cost your country the World Cup. “


“There is a stigma attached to him as far as his tackling is concerned and the spotlight will definitely be on him in New Zealand.”


Botha’s comments were not exactly welcomed by James who despite being banned for four weeks says his bad days are behind him.


“It irritates me that people have got so much to say. I’ve been well behaved for a long time now and while I’m not happy about getting four weeks’ suspension on my record, that’s how things go.


” I honestly feel it was a reflex action (against Daniel) … it was not malicious and I didn’t put the shoulder in.


“Yes, it was high, but there are high tackles in almost every game. I make one and all of a sudden I’m going to cost the Boks the World Cup. That sort of thing gets the hairs on my back up.


“But I know it comes from my younger days and those things stick with you.”


However despite his record James says that his experience should see him being picked in the final 30 for the World Cup.


“If you’ve got an experienced guy and a youngster playing at the same standard a coach will always pick the experienced guy … but you have to understand that experience alone won’t win you a match.


“You still have to play well and hopefully the experience gained over the years by t

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