Bakkies dismisses Bok ban reports
World Cup-winning Springbok lock Bakkies Botha has rubbished reports suggesting he has been "banned" from joining up with South Africa in New Zealand.
Reports emanating from France suggested Toulon coach Bernard Laporte will not allow Botha to play for South Africa against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship this weekend.
"Reports suggesting that my Club and/ or Coach prevents me to play for the Springboks are untrue. Good night tweeters," Botha said on his official page on the social network Twitter.
Earlier in the week Bok coach Heyneke Meyer told a media conference in Auckland that Botha has been placed on stand-by in case lock Eben Etzebeth loses his disciplinary hearing. Etzebeth was subsequently banned for two weeks.
The 32-year-old Botha, who flew home early from the World Cup last year after playing only a bit-part as a result of a long-standing Achilles injury, has made 76 appearances for his country – a world record 62 of those as Victor Matfield's second row partner.
He joined French club Toulon after the World Cup.
“Bakkies is on stand-by,” Meyer told a news conference.
“We are in contact with Bakkies. We keep in touch with all the overseas-based players.
"The guys know who is on stand-by and exactly where they stand,” he added.
But Laporte was quoted as saying Tuesday on the website of sports daily L'Equipe that "Bakkies will wear the Toulon jersey on Friday (against Montpellier) and not the South African one on Saturday."
However, it appears the quote was misconstrued and that while Botha was "on standby" he was never formally called up – meaning he remained in France and will play for Toulon.
He was never banned or blocked by his club in anyway.
Western Province prop Frans Malherbe has since been called up to the Springbok squad currently preparing for their fourth Test in the Rugby Championship in New Zealand.
The 21-year-old Malherbe trained with the Springboks in June during the England series, effectively replaces the suspended Eben Etzebeth in the squad.
“Frans’ call-up is purely precautionary as our two tighthead props on tour are struggling with injuries,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Malherbe was due to arrive in Auckland on Wednesday.