Toulon refuse to release Botha

Toulon are adamant that Bakkies Botha will play for the French club this weekend and not for the Springboks.

With a suspension to Eben Etzebeth looming, Botha was placed on standby by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer on Monday. It was hoped that Botha would join the Boks in New Zealand in the event that Etzebeth was banned for a headbutt on Nathan Sharpe.

Etzebeth has since been banned for two weeks, but the Boks will need to replace the Stormers lock with somebody other than Botha.

Botha’s club, Toulon, has decided to block the big lock’s return to international rugby. Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was quoted in French newspaper L’Equipe saying Botha would play for the club against Montpellier this Friday.

The Boks will have to make do without Botha’s services, and it now seems likely that Flip van der Merwe will join his Bulls team-mate Juandre Kruger in the second row.