As a former Ulster player, BJ Botha knows more than most what lies in store this weekend as Munster make the journey north to face Ulster at a sold-out Kingspan Stadium in round 21 of the GUINNESS PRO12.
Following his Rugby World Cup winning exploits with South Africa and prior to playing for Munster, BJ Botha first cut his teeth in European rugby with Ulster, spending three seasons with the northern outfit before making the move down south in 2011.
The tighthead prop has many fond memories of his time with Ulster and looks forward to making a return to Belfast this weekend.
“I enjoy Belfast, it’s a great place for me, we often go up there for a family break and I have lots of friends up there outside of rugby circles also. I have great memories of Ravenhill – Ulster were really good to me over my three years there and I really enjoyed my time there, so yes, I am looking forward to the challenge of my old team this weekend,” he said.
“Obviously both Munster and Ulster were very disappointed not to be involved in Europe in recent weeks and once that happened, the PRO12 became our sole focus. Leaving Europe early can be part and parcel of a season but it’s how you react and where we find ourselves now that matters.
“We’ve had some good results in recent weeks, progressing with each game and now we find ourselves in a pretty good position. We won’t look any further than this game against Ulster which is a massive game for us.”
As a former member of the Ulster pack, Botha is well aware of its potency, especially in front of a capacity crowd at Kingspan Stadium and he expects it to play a pivotal role in proceedings on Saturday.
“These games are always very intense, even more so this weekend given what’s at stake. Ulster will have a very strong scrum. They have a good front row and back five who work well as a unit and I’ll be looking forward to that challenge.
“They will look to win the physical battle in the scrum, drive and breakdown – that is what the Ulster pack are about and we will need to front up and match them physically, that is key for us.”