By Kemantha Govender
Durban – Bakkies Botha has been forced out of the Rugby World Cup as the defending champions named the most experienced team in Bok history for their quarter-final against Australia.
Botha has an Achilles tendon injury and will leave New Zealand on Friday to become the second Springbok in a week to be forced out. Centre Frans Steyn departed on Tuesday because of a shoulder injury.
Coach Peter de Villiers made three changes to the team that started against Samoa in a combination featuring 836 caps for the Wellington clash.
The most experienced Springbok team – 815 Test caps – played Wales in the team’s opening match of the tournament.
A bitterly disappointed Botha addressed the media in New Zealand on Wednesday.
“I am a person who normally keeps my emotions out of sight but it was emotional to talk to the team this morning and tell them I would be going home,” he said.
“I told the team to cherish every moment of their time in the green and gold because you never know when it is going to be your last.
“I’m very disappointed – after all the hard work that has been put in over the past few months – but it’s not about me, it’s about the team now and there’s still a big job to do. I’ll be sitting at home with my family on Sunday with a tear on my cheek as the team takes on the Wallabies.”
Botha will see a specialist to determine what course of action will be required. He was supposed to take up his three-year contract with Toulon in France this November.
“This is definitely not the end of my Test career as far as I am concerned,” he said.
“I’ll be aiming to give 100 percent to Toulon to help them get into the Heineken Cup and I’ll still be available for South Africa next year. I still have the desire to play for my country and that will be there for as long as I play. It’s a special thing to put on this jersey and that hunger has not left me.”
Meanwhile, Captain John Smit and loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp return to the front row, while Jean de Villiers resumes his place in the No 12 jersey in place of Steyn.
Only Pat Lambie, Morne Steyn and Heinrich Brussow of the starting team were not involved in the 2007 World Cup, while Pierre Spies was originally selected but had to withdraw due to illness.
Bismarck du Plessis drops to the bench where he is joined by CJ van der Linde, Willem Alberts and Francois Louw.
JP Pietersen successfully completed a fitness test on his injured knee at Thursday’s training run and was declared fit to take his place on the right wing.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 7am SA time.
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morn, Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Br~ssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willem Alberts, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Butch James, 22 Gio Aplon