If a Springbok rugby player of the year were to be named now there is a good chance the vote would go to a Zimbabwean – prop Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira.
Superrugby reports that the sturdy loosehead has become to rugby crowds what Mark Fish used to be to football audiences thanks to the “Beeasst!” refrain that greets his every move.
At 23 the former Peterhouse student is exceptionally young for an international prop – he was 22 when he was capped – but ideally suited to the quicker, more fluid, game being engendered by the experimental laws.
His scrummaging has gone up a level this season and his high work rate and penchant for putting in frequent and crunching tackles has made him arguably the best of the new faces introduced by coach Peter de Villiers this season.
A clear measure of the impact Mtawarira has made is the suggestion by an Australian website that he should be called “Mr Beast” and there is little doubt that the man who inherited Os du Randt’s No1 green-and-gold jersey could be headed for the kind of Springbok career achieved by his illustrious predecessor.
De Villiers created a number of new Springboks in this post-World Cup year and none let him down.
Lock Andries Bekker, the tallest Springbok yet, showed himself to be the next Victor Matfield while the like of Jongi Nokwe, Andries Strauss and Brian Mujati confirmed that, given the right approach and structures, Springbok rugby possesses the talent and depth that belies the uncomfortable reality of South Africa yet again finishing with the Tri-Nations wooden spoon.
Others who rewarded the coach for having had confidence in their abilities are players returning to the colours – none more so than centre Adi Jacobs with the like of Conrad Jantjes, Joe van Niekerk and Pierre Spies also showing up strongly.
In fact, the only real disappoint was Luke Watson who never quite rose above the undue pressure that attends his presence in the side.
For my money, though, the man of the year is Mtawarira, an impressive young man who in every sense gives the lie to his famous nickname.Tweet