Loftus return likely for Botha

Gary Botha has left Premiership side Harlequins and is in negotiations with the Bulls.

Botha left the Bulls at the end of 2007 and has played at the London-based club since. Bulls business manager Ian Schwartz confirmed that they were negotiating with the 27-year-old hooker, but stressed that no contract had been signed yet.

Botha will play his final match for Quins against Bath on Saturday, and head coach John Kingston lamented his departure.

‘I am personally very saddened to see Gary departing us for South Africa. He has been an integral part of the recent success of Quins,’ said Kingston. ‘The club understands his situation and were clearly happy to facilitate his return back home.’

Of his tenure at The Stoop Botha said, ‘I have really enjoyed my time at Quins and it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving. I would like to place on record my gratitude to Quins for agreeing to my situation and allowing an early release from my contract. I have made many friends in my time at the club and will watch with interest the progress of the team.’

Even if Botha does reach an agreement with the Bulls this week he won’t be eligible for the Currie Cup play-offs, as he would need to have played 40 minutes in at least three fixtures to qualify.

He will, however, bolster the hooker stocks at the union, competing with Derick Kuun, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bandise Maku for a place in the team.

Botha has been capped 12 times for the Springboks and was a member of the World Cup-winning squad in 2007.