Bulls back row Arno Botha says his two-year spell at Munster was one of the best of his life, as he prepares to face his former side this Saturday.

The former South Africa Under-20 captain was a hugely popular player during his time at the province, where he played 43 times and scored eight tries between 2018 and 2020.

Botha left Munster in the summer of 2020 to return to South Africa and his home club the Bulls, where he has gone on to feature in their back-to-back Currie Cup titles.

The 30-year-old is expected to be in the Bulls lineup when they host Munster this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the United Rugby Championship, and he says he's looking forward to renewing himself with some old friends.

"My time at Munster was probably one of the best of my life," he told South African media this week.

"Not because it's Munster, but because I actually played a lot of rugby there. It was a different challenge for me, my first time overseas, so I embraced everything that came with that opportunity."

Botha got his career back on track during his two years in Limerick, having been in limbo following an injury plagued spell which had previously seen a move to Ulster fall through.

"I played a lot of rugby and learned a lot about rugby. I was fortunate enough to work with good coaches. That is something I took to heart and it meant a lot to me, and obviously getting my career back on track," he added.

Botha (left) and Marcell Coetzee (right) lifting the Currie Cup trophy this year

Botha says he's looking forward to catching up with his former team-mates and coaches, adding that he has his current Bulls team-mates braced for a huge challenge if they want to maintain their three-year unbeaten record at Loftus Versfeld.

"I know quite a few of the guys, and I remain friends with quite a few of them. So, it will be quite awesome to catch up with them.

"The quality of rugby will definitely be good. Munster has very high standards and they have really good depth. That is something we really need to focus on.

"It won't be just another day at the office. We will have to get out there and do an equally good job. They have a good structure with Johann (van Graan), JP (Ferreira), Stephan (Larkham) and Graham (Rowntree) – it's a structure that is easy to fit into and play a good game, no matter who is in the jersey for Munster.

"Playing them now has no feelings of hate. We play the game because we enjoy it, we want to get better, and we want to challenge each other. I’m sure that is a mutual feeling on their side as well – like Coach Johann coming back to Loftus."

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Follow Bulls v Munster (Saturday 5.45pm) and Leinster v Ulster (Saturday, 8pm) via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app. Watch Connacht v Ospreys (Friday 7.35pm) and Leinster v Ulster live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to the inter-pro derby on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.