Starting or not, Beast wants to empty tank
Cape Town – Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira has forced his way back into the starting line-up for Friday’s crucial Rugby World Cup clash against Italy, but he insists that wearing the No 1 jersey is not his primary motivation.
The Bok front row has been one of the most competitive areas on the pitch in terms of selection 2019.
At loosehead prop, Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff have been battling it out for a starting berth while at hooker the same competitiveness has been seen between Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi.
Marx and Kitshoff started in the 23-13 loss to the All Blacks in South Africa’s tournament opener, but coach Rassie Erasmus has backed Mbonambi and Mtawarira for Italy.
There was also a similar battle taking place at tighthead prop between Frans Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane, but a tournament-ending injury to the latter means that Malherbe is now the first-choice No 3.
For Mtawarira, though, who has 113 Tests to his name and his playing in his third World Cup, starting is not the most important thing anymore.
“For myself it’s not about starting our coming off the bench,” Mtawarira said.
“It’s just about playing my role in the team as best as I can.
“Right now, I just want to make sure that with every chance I get out on that field I give my utmost best the jersey.
“I’m realising more than ever that it is a huge honour pulling on that Springbok jersey and I want to make sure that whether it’s 20 minutes or 40 minutes, I give my heart to the team.”
Now 34, this will almost certainly be Mtawarira’s final World Cup.
Friday’s match kicks off at 11:45 (Zim time).