Ask the newest Springbok nicely and he will tell you he is a reformed bully with a heart of gold.
But Tendai Mtawarira, who was on Thursday named in the Springbok squad for the second Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, was given the nickname “Beast” for a reason, writes Kevin McCallum on IOL.
“I’ve had the name Beast since I was nine years old. I was a bit of a bully,” said Mtawarira.
“I didn’t get called that because of my good nature, but as you can see, I’ve become nicer these days. It’s stuck with me from Zimbabwe. Everyone calls me Beast.”
Except for his mother, Bertha, whom he called in mid-week to tell her he would be pulling on the No 1 jersey for South Africa.
She has been an inspiration to the 22-year-old, 1,88m, 112kg loosehead prop, who was still trying to come to terms with being selected.
“I was told that they were thinking of picking me and I should stay in the right frame of mind. I’ve been so excited the entire week, it’s been amazing,” said Mtawarira.
Fellow Zimbabwean Brian Mujati, the Stormers tighthead, made his debut for the Springboks last week. The two Peterhouse old boys have had much to talk about.
“We both wanted to get to this level and pull on the Bok jersey, and we can’t believe how quickly it has happened. You know South Africa has been really good to us and we want to do our best for the country,” said Mtawarira.
Mujati and Gurthro Steenkamp have been dropped from the front row in a scrum that struggled to compete with Wales and an all-Sharks front row has been installed. The Beast will be playing alongside bok captain John Smit and BJ Botha.
“It’s always difficult to go into your first game with different players, getting the synergy right, getting the hit just right,” said Mtawarira.
We’re really up for it this week after we struggled last week. It’s a bonus knowing John and BJ and having them beside me. I played with John last year and he was awesome to me.”Tweet