Friday, 12th January 2018 @ 20:00
Harlequins and Namibia back rower Renaldo Bothma speaks to quins.co.uk ahead of his side's clash with Wasps on Saturday (kick-off 17:30).
Renaldo Bothma has made quite the impact since his Harlequins debut just under six weeks ago. It was announced that the back rower would join the Club in November of 2016 but he wouldn't be seen playing senior rugby for the Club until just over a year later. And it was quite the match.
A broken arm ended his Super Rugby season with the Bulls and fastracked his move to the Londoners. Bothma managed less than ten minutes for Harlequins in an A League match at The Stoop before having to leave the field, it was revealed later that he had broken the same arm and would expect a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The necessary recovery followed before it was announced a spot at blindside flanker against Saracens at home in a crucial league match was his. While Tim Visser and Danny Care took the plaudits for the try scoring and trickery respectively, many left The Stoop impressed by Bothma's high work rate, tough tackling and leadership abilities.
Since then Bothma has missed just one match - a minor injury ruled out his involvement at Big Game 10 against Northampton Saints - and was entrusted with the vice-captaincy away in Ulster on just his third appearance for Harlequins.
"It's good to be out on the pitch each weekend," Bothma began. "We're using these opportunities to get better and to do things we do well and to grow as a team.
"It's been a great couple of weeks for myself, I was gutted I couldn't play at Big Game, that was something that I was really looking forward to but I've be back in after the foot injury and it's been going well."
Bothma was involved last week as Harlequins travelled to Steve Diamond's Sale Sharks. Named as a replacement, the 28-year-old was given the nod 11 minutes from time with 14-man Harlequins cradling a two point lead. A Faf de Klerk penalty followed - as did a TMO ruling striking out a potential Jamie Roberts try - as the Londoners settled for just two points.
"We're obviously really disappointed with the loss against Sale, I think we played well but some things just didn't go our way and we lost by a point; like we did in Newcastle.
"Everyone's prepared really well this week and we can't wait for this weekend's game against Wasps."
This weekend Bothma is named to start alongside James Chisholm and Archie White in the back row as John Kingston's men welcome Wasps to The Stoop in Round 5 of the European Rugby Champions Cup. Elimination in the tournament was confirmed in the previous round with qualification into the knockouts still a possibility for Wasps.
Despite a spot in the quarter-finals out of reach, Bothma believes the next two matches are a perfect opportunity to get things right ahead of the return to the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Aviva Premiership campaigns during the Six Nations period.
"We're out of the competition but that doesn't mean we don't play for our pride.
"We're still a team that needs to build on a lot of stuff, we're going to use these next two games to give ourselves a chance to get better in each facet of our game and to prepare for the Premiership in a couple of week's time. We're definitely not out of the Premiership so we're working towards ticking the right boxes when the league comes round again.
"I can't wait to get onto the park again, it's always a lovely atmosphere at The Stoop. It's going to be a big one this weekend, especially for Wasps coming down here who have something to prove, we had a big loss to them up there when we last played them so we've got to play for something as well so it's going to be a good game."
Prior to his arrival in England, Bothma had only played professional club rugby in the Southern Hemisphere; predominantly in South Africa as well as a stint playing for Toyota Verblitz in Japan.
Fifteen-times capped by Namibia, the back rower has been explaining the main differences between playing the sport on either side of the Equator.
"The Premiership and Champions Cup is a whole different competition to Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. In South Africa at the moment not a lot of people are watching the games which means the atmosphere for us over here has been so much better over the last couple of years. Playing in front of a full house, the crowd, the people and the culture England has in the rugby scene has made it a great experience.
"In South Africa there isn't as big squads as there is here which means you get to have a bit of rotation especially with a lot of games, so it creates a system to give the guys a rest when they need it.
"It's a good thing to have a big squad and competition in the team, especially for us in the loose forwards where we've got a lot of competition. It grows you as a player to keep improving and to keep your jumper each weekend."
Tickets for Harlequins' Champions Cup clash with old foes Wasps are still available to purchase online or by calling the Harlequins Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010.