Bakkies chomping at the bit
Wellington - Springbok hardman Bakkies Botha said he was chomping at the bit ahead of Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia after missing two titanic pool battles against Wales and Samoa.
Niggling injuries meant the reigning champions' pre-eminent enforcer sat out the narrow, hard-hitting victories over Wales (17-16) and Samoa (13-5), instead just getting a run in the facile 87-0 dismantling of Namibia.
But the towering lock insists he is back to top form ahead of the quarter-final against the Wallabies in Wellington, with Danie Rossouw having filled in with aplomb in his absence.
"You don't know how frustrating it's been," Botha told reporters on Tuesday. "All the physical battles that I missed against Wales and Samoa.
"When I was sitting on the sidelines I just wanted to take off my number one jacket and get stuck in to it.
"I'm just happy to be back. I'm here for the team and I want to do something for the team.
"I'm feeling 100 percent. I can get out running and get out into it. I'm feeling good, as long as I can get on the pitch, although selection falls to the coach," he added.
Botha predicted a fiery confrontation up front with a Wallaby pack he said had improved under Kiwi coach Robbie Deans.
"Since Robbie Deans has taken over, the Australian pack has definitely picked up physicality-wise," said Botha, who will join French Top 14 club Toulon on a three-year contract after the World Cup.
"During the Tri-Nations and all Tests they're involved in, Australia are a much more physical side than they were three, four years ago.
"You can't play good Test rugby if you haven't got a pack that dominates physically.
"They've definitely picked up and this weekend coming will be a physical battle as well and hopefully we'll get on the pitch, do our work and have a good day at the office."
Botha added that the set piece challenge would be key to the team that comes out victorious, saying he thought Deans would pick the combative Nathan Sharpe in a bid to cause Victor Matfield problems in the lineout.
"The lineout and scrum are key elements in the game," he said. "I think they'll put Sharpe in this weekend and they'll try to play against Victor because we know Victor's the best lineout lock in world rugby."
* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA