Tendai Mtawarira shares his wisdom: 'Everything has led to this moment'
Increasingly‚ with a weight of 116 Test matches and counting‚ Tendai Mtawarira is being asked to share his wisdom.
Taciturn for the overwhelming part of his career‚ the Beast is increasingly finding his voice and willing to share his opinion.
He has even written a book which got social media trolls in a froth over opinions he expressed about a former coach. He’s had to push back the book’s launch date.
When Mtawarira was quizzed about the impact Rassie Erasmus has had on the Bok set-up‚ the Beast had something sage to say‚ although it may not get an universal social media thumbs up.
“He’s very honest. He says it as it is‚” said Mtawarira of Erasmus on Wednesday.
“That is something I haven’t had before with most of the Springbok coaches. That something I really appreciate. I think it is one of the reasons the players really respect him.
"He really adds a lot of value to a Test match‚” said the loosehead prop who has played Test matches under Peter de Villiers‚ Heyneke Meyer‚ Allister Coetzee and now Erasmus.
“Rassie is a really good coach. He has changed a lot of things. We have to go through like pressure moments in the game beforehand. We always chat about what we are going to do in those moments‚” said Mtawarira.
He stressed the point that it is important to have a representative Springbok team and that Erasmus has played a crucial part in establishing that.
“I’ve had the privilege of seeing this team evolve. To get to see so many guys of colour who have been really excellent and deserving of their places in the squad.
“It was something that Rassie was pretty honest about from the onset that we need to get the balance correct. We need to get a team that really represents our country. We have achieved that‚” said Mtawarira.
The 34-year-old senses the coach has brought them to the cusp of glory.
“Everything has led to this moment. I’ve very proud. I’ve walked a long road. I’m just looking forward to making South Africa proud.
“It would be amazing‚” he said if the Boks were to win a third Rugby World Cup.
“A lot has gone into this. Siya’s (Kolisi) walk to get here but we have to focus on the process of getting there first and don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
The other loosehead in the match day team‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ can also feel something stir. His impact has of late been felt late in the game as part of the Boks’ bench‚ the so called ‘Bomb Squad’.
A powerful surge in the scrum helped put the matter to bed in the closing minutes of a tight semi-final against Wales and a similar scenario must have played out in his mind at some point in his career.
“Scrums can win you or lose you a game‚ in big moments. So‚ I have definitely thought about pressure scrums a lot in my career‚ and what the best outcome would be‚” said Kitshoff.
Tight head prop Vincent Koch‚ another member of the increasingly notorious ‘Bomb Squad’ didn’t want to draw comparisons between the forwards who start to those who end the match.
“Both packs are similar‚” said Koch.
“What we are doing is to have a full 80-minute performance. I won’t say one pack is better than the other. Our impact is to keep the game as good as the starters did‚ and try our best to keep it at that level.”