Toulon refuse to release Bakkies for Boks

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 08:36 12/09/2012
Bakkies Botha
Reuters
ACCESS DENIED: French club Toulon would not release veteran second rower Bakkies Botha to play for the Springboks against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

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The Springboks hopes of having Bakkies Botha involved in Saturday's test against the All Blacks were scuttled by his French club Toulon.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte, the former French coach, stepped in to put a stop to any thoughts of 76-test veteran Botha flying to New Zealand as cover for the Boks who have tight-five problems.

Laporte told the French sports daily newspaper L'Equipe:  "Bakkies will wear the Toulon jersey on Friday (against Montpellier) and not the South African one on Saturday."

Botha, a notorious hard man, hasn't played a test since last year's World Cup disaster, heading to France on a massive contract. Toulon obviously want to make the most of their investment.

The Springboks management had been in touch with Botha earlier in the week, anticipating problems with young lock Eben Etzebeth who was facing a headbutting charge from last week's loss to the Wallabies. Etzebeth has been banned for two weeks and will miss the Dunedin test against the All Blacks with the Boks having to cover his absence from within their touring squad.

But they have moved to ensure they have cover for their propping problems with both tightheads Jannie du Plessis (hamstring) and Pat Cilliers (elbow) battling to overcome injuries..

Western Province prop Frans Malherbe has been flown to New Zealand, arriving this evening.

The 21-year-old Malherbe trained with the Springboks in June during the England series.

"Frans' call-up is purely precautionary as our two tighthead props on tour are struggling with injuries," Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said.

"Neither Jannie (du Plessis) nor Pat (Cilliers) trained with us on Tuesday, but we've decided to give them as much time as needed to regain their fitness.

"Frans has been with us before and he knows our calls and moves. He's still young and has a bright future ahead of him."

The Springboks name their team today.

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