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Botham excited by new era at Cardiff Arms Park

First Team News | 16th May 2024

James Botham is ready to give his all in a new and exciting era for Cardiff.

The versatile back-row forward penned a new contract earlier this year and is relishing the challenge ahead.

Having worked his way back into the Wales squad, he pinpointed international honours and the changes at Cardiff Arms Park as his reasons for staying.

He said: “I just wanted to stay loyal to Wales as I always have been. The reason I came down to Wales at the start to play for Cardiff was to play for Wales. 

“For me to have the opportunity in the Six Nations made it clear where my loyalties stand and they always will be. That just made my choice very simple and easy. And that's the reason I wanted to stay. 

“We’ve got a lot of young boys coming through with great talent at Cardiff and we've got some great signings. 

“We've obviously got new owners. We've got new plans and it's like a blank canvas to start again. I think it's interesting to see where we could go and where we will go next year. 

“I want to be part of that journey and try to make an impact and help Cardiff get back to where they need to be.”

Botham also paid tribute to the Cardiff Arms Park crowd, who have created an electric atmosphere each and every week, with four sell-outs in a season.

He continued: “Yeah, definitely. I can't knock the crowd at all. The crowd have been amazing all year, regardless of the result. I know we've had close games but the crowd have been great. 

“Without them, we wouldn't be where we are now. They've been behind us no matter what the outcome and you just have to be grateful because that's how clubs run. You need people like that backing you.

“Then obviously all the kids as well. It's great to see them still enjoying themselves coming to the games and everyone having a good time.”

Botham made his first start since injuring his new during the Six Nations, in Cardiff’s BKT United Rugby Championship defeat to Emirates Lions last week.

And while the result was not what Botham, or his teammates, would have wanted, he was thrilled to be back.

He is already being touted for a Wales place again following his impressive performance and a fine cameo appearance, and while he admits the summer tour is target, his sole focus remains with Cardiff and the Saturday’s showdown with Hollywoodbets Sharks.

He continued: “You’ve just got to play. Obviously, you always want to be there and try to get the spot. 

“But for me, I've always said, you’ve just got to keep your head down, play rugby. Don't get too ahead of yourself and just play every game as it comes. Then it's up to the coaches to make the decision on what they want to go with. 

“The only control I've got is to turn up and try to play as well as I can against the teams we've got left, Sharks and Ospreys, and then hopefully put enough of a point down with minimal game time. 

“It's not been great with me (the timing of injuries). I've been a bit unlucky in that sense, but to prove a point and get the spot hopefully. 

“There's definitely less bumps and niggles but like anything in rugby, you can be in your absolute prime, be as fit as you are and a freak injury can happen. 

“Hence, I felt like I was in great shape going into Six Nations, a little bit probably on the larger side for me. But my knee, I can't help that. “That's just a freak accident. The knee goes and it's one of those things, it's rugby. 

“It's the game we play. You don't know what's around the corner with anything. It could be your last game, it could be, you never know. So you've just got to take everything with a pinch of salt.

“It’s great that I've got no bumps and niggles, but I've still got two games to go. Anything can happen so I just need to keep my head down and do what I can for Cardiff."