Cheetahs land Botha and Specman

Lesley Botha dives over for a try while playing for Grey College against Selborne College (East London) in 2018. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs added two more players to their books over the past week with the signing of the exciting 18-year-old centre, Lesley Botha, and the Springbok Sevens stalwart, Rosko Specman.

Botha has joined the Cheetahs on a two-year contract from the French Top14 team, Montpellier.

The youngster was part of the Grey College team that was unbeaten for close to three years, and in 2019 also represented the Free State Cheetahs at the U18 Craven Week, which was hosted at his alma mater.

Straight after school he linked up with the French team and before his return to Bloemfontein he started training with the senior Montpellier team, which included the two-time World Cup-winning Springbok, Frans Steyn, who is also at the Cheetahs now.

His school teammate, Marcell Muller, was also at Montpellier, and he too is at Cheetahs.
Botha told Bloemfontein Courant that he has no regrets going abroad, but is happy to be back in the City of Roses.

“I don’t regret coming back to Bloemfontein because I love the Free State and I grew up here. Having said that, I also don’t regret going to France, even though it was only for a short time. I learnt there that you don’t have to rely on someone bigger, better or richer than you to make yourself the best that you can be. If you just believe in yourself and have hope you can fulfill your dreams any place and anywhere. I don’t have to rely on a place, someone or a club to fulfill my dreams.

“I believe I can do that in the Free State and I am really excited to carry on with my journey here.”

Specman, in his turn, makes a return to the Cheetahs after previously representing the team in 2017. He played in the Currie Cup for the Free State Cheetahs, and was also part of the team’s inaugural season in the Guinness PRO14 before going to the Bulls.

The Olympic bronze medallist also joins on a two-year contract. A condition of his return is that he will still be available to play for the Blitzboks at the upcoming Dubai and Cape Town Sevens, and the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Specman told Bloemfontein Courant he is delighted to make a return to the team which will allow him to show off his talent.

“I’m very excited to be heading back to Bloemfontein, but more than that I’m grateful to coach Hawies Fourie for recognising and believing in my potential.

“I’m confident that I can add to the strength that already exists in the team and look forward to working with all the talented players and dedicated staff at the Cheetahs.”

Botha and Specman will both start their contracts at the Cheetahs on 1 November. – MORGAN PIEK