Botha backs ‘Killer’ to halt Saracens’ charge

BJ Botha has challenged Ireland’s latest prop sensation Dave Kilcoyne to take his remarkable progress a step further by stunting Saracens’ forward motion.

As one of Kilcoyne’s mentors, Botha has been hugely impressed with the youngster’s progress but believes there remains room for improvement and says the challenge against a seasoned Saracens pack in Saturday’s critical Heineken Cup clash could provide him with an unprecedented test of character.

Botha maintains Kilcoyne has a huge future but warns of what might lie ahead against a very big and aggressive pack: “This is another big test for him.

“He has done hugely well across the park individually as a ball carrier and in defence, but first and foremost he is really up there as a loose head and will benefit from the opportunity he has got at international level.”

Botha knows first-hand how capable Kilcoyne is at scrum time when the duo go head-to-head in Munster’s training sessions: “We all work together and we can have really heated contests at scrum time; we work it so that we can have productive sessions as a build-up for the weekend games.

“Killer (Kilcoyne’s nickname) is hungry, he’s aggressive and that shows in his play; yeah, there’s lots of room for improvement but he has improved (already) remarkably from where he has come from. From my experience he has always been a player who was going to push through the ranks. He is young but he has got the chance to play international rugby now and he has felt what it’s like to be up there, that helps to drive your hunger and I think a hungry player is extremely dangerous.”

Botha spoke of Munster’s desire to perfect their scrummaging technique and of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to achieve that goal. Happy that his side can stand up to any opposition, he does point out that timing of engagement was of crucial importance these days.

Munster got it wrong in the RaboDirect Pro12 defeat to Scarlets ten days ago, mostly right against Glasgow last Saturday but Botha says there is further room for improvement: “We have worked very hard on it (timing) and there was a huge improvement against Glasgow (last Saturday); that was obvious progress but we know we have to improve on that against an English side where there will be a huge battle up front; we are going to have to set the precedent for the team going forward through the set pieces.

“We have our own way to critique our scrum, we obviously knew from within that our performance against Scarlets needed improvement, so we upped out game and put in a massive performance against Glasgow, particularly the tight five. Now we need to build on that progress.”

Saracens will be treated with respect, but no more than that, says Botha: “It is a massive game, they’re a massive side in England; they’re not second in the Aviva Premiership for nothing so this will be right up there.

“They’re leading the pool, so we know what we have to do this week and we won’t be looking any further than that, that’s where our eyes are set at the moment.

“We pride ourselves on our record at home and we want to put in a great performance. I think that’s our motivation; obviously in the back of the head you want to have the result but it will come down to performance and if you get the performance the result should look after itself.”


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