Butch faces time off

Butch James will have a scan on his knee to see whether he is able to face Saracens on Saturday.

James had to leave the field at half-time during Bath’s 15-14 win over Newcastle on Sunday. The Springbok flyhalf has a had another stellar season but had a poor opening stanza this weekend, missing two kicks, although he was clearly hampered by a knee ailment.

‘We’ll have to see where he’s at and what the extent of the injury is,’ Bath coach Steve Meehan told the BBC.

Bath face Sarries at The Rec in their final Premiership league match of the season and it will be one of James’s last opportunities to stake a claim for the Springbok team to face the Lions (depending on whether they make the play-offs).

James has a history of knee problems, while he hasn’t had a prolonged rest period in over two years. After the 2007 World Cup triumph he started his stint at Bath, then played for the Boks in the Incoming Tours and Tri-Nations last year, then went straight into another taxing northern hemisphere season.

James’s last enforced break was in November 2006 after he injured knee ligaments in the Boks’ loss to England in the first Test at Twickenham. Jake White did withdraw a number of his senior Springboks, including James, for the away leg of the 2007 Tri-Nations, but this was hardly a rest as the players trained rigorously in preparation for the World Cup.

The Lions’ tour to South Africa should have been James’s swan song in a Bok jersey, but whether his body has what it takes – if selected by Peter de Villiers – after 26 consecutive months of top-flight rugby remains to be seen.