Lock Ruan Botha has made an impression since joining the Cell C Sharks last year and testament to the esteem with which he is held by the coaching staff that he has been selected to start each of the opening three Vodacom Super Rugby matches to date.

His rugby career started at the Golden Lions before spending three years at Western Province between 2013 and 2015. In 2012, he was a member of the successful South African Under 20 side that won the IRB Junior World Championships.

He chose to join the Cell C Sharks last year and isn’t looking back.

“It’s going well here and it’s good to have competition for places because then you want to do well and you want to improve; I’m enjoying my time here with the Cell C Sharks,” he explains. “I’m happy to be injury free and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

His role as a lineout specialist means he has a vital contribution to make in games. With a hint of humour, he explains that it’s an unofficial part of his job description.

“Lineouts are what a number five lock is there for – you get paid to take lineout ball and you get paid to steal lineout ball, although there is no clause or description in my contract that says that!”

Discussing the team’s evolution from pre-season, through three Vodacom Super Rugby games, he feels that our team is showing steady progress.

“We’re on an upward curve although we’re not the finished product yet, we’re still working on certain aspects of our game, especially leaving a few points out there against the Waratahs that we should have taken.

“We come back every Monday after the weekend’s game and view the clips so we can identify what we need to work on. We can only get better.”

The Kings game this weekend is one the Cell C Sharks are expected to win, but respect must be shown, as Botha eloquently points out.

“You can’t disrespect the Kings, they’ve played some good rugby , although not all the results have gone their way. But we do have respect for them, we aren’t going to take them lightly and we’re doing our preparation as we would for any team.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge as well as continuing our upward curve.”

Last week’s win over the Waratahs was his first home game in Durban in Vodacom Super Rugby and he admits that he is looking forward to this weekend’s clash, again at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.

“I enjoy playing in front of my home crowd and we were very happy to do it for the fans last weekend. It’s awesome to play at home when you know you have a lot of support behind you.

“It was a very good atmosphere, generally I am so focussed on the game that I don’t hear the crowd, but there were times in the game when I did and that is encouraging at the time. We want to play a brand of rugby the fans enjoy.”

He says that the key this week will be a strong early start, which will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the match.

“We aren’t going to take them lightly, but we do want to make a good start. We just can’t afford to allow them to get confidence if we leak tackles. We want to play our game and stick to what we know.”