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Bulls pay tribute to Ettienne Botha



Perhaps the greatest honour that Ettienne Botha would never know was Jake White's admission last week that he would have become a Springbok.

White, in an interview with the Pretoria News recently, said Botha would have worn the Green and Gold during this year's Tri-Nations tournament given the injuries that the Bok coach had had to deal with.

On Thursday, the memories will flood back of the much-loved player who died in a car accident along the N1 north highway in Centurion in the early hours of September 7 2005.

The Blue Bulls will keep the proceedings low key, mindful of their task against the Pumas on Friday night, but players will have their individual moments, with many of them likely to visit his grave during the day.

At the Springbok camp, the Bulls players will mark the solemn occasion in their own way to remember one of the best players ever to wear a Blue Bulls jersey.

Team-mate Bryan Habana, who shared a house with Botha and who was out with him the night before his death, said it had been a difficult year.

"Ettienne was a special person in my life, and we connected well as team-mates and housemates.

"When that happened, it shook up my world, but I will always remember that Ettienne lived to enjoy life and make people smile. He epitomised everything that the Blue Bulls stand for, about being there for your team-mates and being a family.

"There will never be another Ettienne, he will always have a special place in my heart," Habana said.

Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer said the anniversary of Botha's death would be a difficult time for the Bulls, and that the players have spoken about it during their team talks this week.

"It is a difficult situation, we saw how bad it was for the players when Ettienne's birthday came while we were on tour in the Super 14 this year. It was an emotional day for everyone. It made us all realise how short life is. Ettienne would do everything in his power to play. He was a wonderful friend and player," Meyer said.

"He always brought something positive to the team with his trademark laugh and was always positive even though people had written him off.

"We have two special team awards, one for Ettienne and the other for Francois Swart (killed in an accident in 2004), they will always be in our thoughts."

Meyer said the team would not have any formal service but would probably "say a prayer" together in memory of Botha.

Springbok Bakkies Botha said: "I walked a long way with Ettienne, from our under-21 days at the Falcons.

"We all would love him to still be with us, but he is in a place where we all want to be. We miss his presence, there is one Botha too little in the Bulls team these days.

"I can't believe it has been a year already. It shows that life goes on and you always need to be sure that you are ready when your time comes."[/b]


I'll be taking changing my signature today, I've kept it for a year in honour off this great player!
I loved Ettiene. I was there in the CC final when he scored that awesome try against the Free State in 2004. What a moment, what a try, what a player.
I actually thought Ettiene should have been a Bok in previous years. You could see he had big potential.
A lot off people wanted to see him in the Bok jersey, but unfortunately
not the bok selectors or the coach.

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