The Toyota Cheetahs have confirmed the signing of 18-year-old centre Lesley Botha, the latest teen signing in the increasingly competitive market for South African schoolboy rugby talent. Botha has signed a two-contract at the Toyota Cheetahs from the French Top14 club, Montpellier.
Botha, was in matric at Grey College in Bloemfontein last year, and also represented Free State Cheetahs at the 2019 Craven Week. The annual Craven Week was contested at Grey in 2019.
Botha played for the 1st XV of his alma mater for two years, and while he played centre, he also played on the wing.
Straight after school, he joined Montpellier in France, and while he was only there for a very short time, he started training with the senior team.
Botha’s approach on the attack is very direct and he knows how to create space. He is also fearless in defence. His deceptive speed will add a lot of value to any team he plays for.
Botha is 1,83m tall and tips the scales at 90kg. His teammate at Montpellier, Marcell Muller, recently also signed a contract at the Cheetahs along with George Cronjé. Cronjé was Botha and Muller’s captain at school.
Botha got to train alongside the two-time World Cup-winning Springbok, Frans Steyn, while still at Montpellier. Steyn also recently signed a two-year deal at the Toyota Cheetahs.
While Botha will only turn 19 in July, he has dreams of playing for the Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14 and Currie Cup, and his sights are also set on higher honours.
“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.
“There I learnt 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 fulfil your dreams any place and anywhere. I don’t have to rely on a place, someone or a club fulfil my dreams.
“I believe I can fulfil my dreams in the Free State and I am really excited to carry on with my journey here.”
Botha’s contract at the Toyota Cheetahs starts on 1 November 2020 and will run until 31 October 2022.
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