Known to wear his heart on his sleeve, Mtawarira feels that there is still a lot more he can improve on, now especially in defence
It has been almost a decade since Springbok prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira put on the Green and Gold jersey for the first time.
And even with the experience of having played in 92 Tests – his debut was against Wales as a 22-year-old – Mtawarira feels that there is still a lot more he can improve on, especially with the tricky Wallabies on the horizon. The Beast knows all about scrummaging and one should take heed of his warning of how tough the Australian scrum will be on Saturday in Perth in their Rugby Championship encounter.
The 32-year-old Mtawarira, though, is not disregarding the domineering scrum performances of the Springboks consecutive wins against Argentina’s bajada scrum but believes they can still improve on those performances, which had many of his detractors eating humble pie.
“I think the scrum has gone really well in the first two games but we are a work-in-progress and the one thing about us is that we want to keep working hard to improve every weekend. Obviously, the Wallabies present a tough challenge upfront, so for us it is about making sure we get those one-percenters right and we get better on the weekend,” said Mtawarira from Perth this week.
Clearly with the benefit of hindsight, Mtawarira now fully appreciates the ‘live’ scrummaging that the Springboks have been doing as opposed to the less effective method of packing down against a scrum machine.
The much improved Boks’ scrum has benefitted from the live scrums and so too Mtawarira, who is looking every bit as fearful and domineering as he was during the 2009 British and Irish Lions series victory.
“I think live scrumming has really benefited us as a pack and is the best way to prepare for a Test because you (are) not going to be going against a scrum machine on a Saturday. You actually have a pack in front of you and we make it pretty difficult for each other, there are different scenarios and we make sure that you work on those things and it’s all muscle memory on a Saturday. So, it really is a good thing and we must keep at it.”
The one thing that Mtawarira has been consistent with in all of his years wearing the Green and Gold, has been the manner in which he wears his heart on his sleeve, now especially in defence.
“I think defence is an attitude thing and that is what Brendan (Venter) has brought in. We want to show each other our hearts on defence and how much we feel for the next guy. We are working hard every week and at training as well it is very physical with guys putting in some physical hits to inspire the whole team. That is what we want to do on the field on Saturday.”