Since proving he can turn his hand to many things off the field, Mouritz Botha has metamorphosed into an England Test player, wearing the No. 4 jersey in every match during the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship. He had impressed in last year’s Churchill Cup when he made the first of his three starts against the USA at Northampton.
His initial senior cap was off the bench against Wales at Twickenham two months later, his first start came in the 13-6 triumph over Scotland at Murrayfield in February and he took his consecutive caps to eight when playing in all three Tests against South Africa in June this year.
Mouritz, who was born in Vryheid, South Africa, helped Saracens to win the Aviva Premiership title for the first time in May last year, having played club rugby in Cape Town and arrived in the UK in October 2004. He is now qualified by residence.
After signing to play for Bedford Athletic in what was then National Three North, he worked as an office assistant before being made redundant and then found a temporary job in a carpet washing factory and did six tonnes of them each day. Next up was stripping asbestos out of houses in Bedford. Hard work held no fears for him.
By then his club had been relegated to Midlands One but Mouritz continued to play there until Bedford Blues awarded him a full time contract and he made 57 appearances for the Goldington Road club before signing for Saracens in 2009-10. As a stand out player for the Blues, he had won East Midlands’ selection for the 2009 Mobbs Memorial match against the Barbarians.
In 2010-11, he played in 19 Premiership matches for Saracens before his Saxons’ call, that he has since expanded to 58 appearances but Mouritz has not forgotten his initial English roots. After leaving Bedford Athletic, he accepted an invitation to play in their centenary match against the Penguin International XV at Putnoe Woods. His subsequent success will be etched on the club’s honours board.
This week we've been up at St George's Park - the FA's national centre in Burton upon Trent - using the new facilities. The place is huge - some of the boys nearly got lost a couple of times going between the gym and the hotel - and the equipment...