Reigning Investec Champions Cup title holders La Rochelle have a squad stacked full of superstars.
Yet even in a squad filled with international stars, Fiji’s Levani Botia stands tall as quite possibly their best player.
Equally adept in the back row as he is in the centres, the now 34-year-old is a wrecking ball capable of flipping a game on its head at a moment’s notice.
Renowned for his breakdown prowess and hard-hitting defensive ability, Botia has been crucial in the rise of La Rochelle over the past decade.
Whilst Ronan O’Gara’s side have endured a less than stellar start to their campaign in 2023/24, they have started to find their form in recent weeks.
Losing their opening two Champions Cup clashes whilst languishing in the lower third of the Top 14 table, it appeared their season might be on a downward spiral.
However, two big wins against Toulouse and Pau, respectively, have seen their season get an injection of much-needed positivity.
Now sitting in 6th position on the Top 14 table (this will change as the evening progresses as more teams play their matches), La Rochelle remains a dangerous prospect in 2024.
If they are to rediscover the magic that saw them win back-to-back Champions Cup titles, Botia will be a key cog for the team.
Highlighting his class again today, he singlehandedly shut down a Pau attack with an immense period of defensive play.
Tackling three Pau players in one play, Botia showed his out-of-this-world work ethic and showed that despite being in his mid-thirties he has plenty of miles left in his legs.
— Bernard Jackman (@bernardjackman) January 6, 2024