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Victory the main thing on Beast’s mind

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It was put to the coach that a disaffected Bosch was in talks with the Stormers with a view to moving to the Cape, but he gave this speculation short shrift

Tendai Mtawarira of the Cell C Sharks is due to play his 157th Super Rugby match on Friday night. Picture: Gerhard Duraan BackpagePix

SHARKS legend Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira will become South Africa’s most capped Super Rugby player when the takes the field at Ellis Park on Friday night against the Lions, but he says he would happily trade the milestone for a certain win.

The Sharks are desperate to bounce back from their second home loss of the season at the weekend, against the Bulls, and get their listing ship back on an even keel.

Against the Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park, Mtawarira drew level with another South African legend, Adriaan Strauss of the Cheetahs and then the Bulls, on 156 caps.

“My first Super Rugby match was against the Waratahs in 2007 when then coach Dick Muir put me on the bench. We won the game and then went on to play in the final after an unbelievable season,” Mtawarira said.

“I never thought how far I would go. It is mind-boggling to now realise I have played so many games. When I started, my goal was simply to improve in each game; I saw each game as an opportunity to play my heart out.

“Suddenly it was 50 caps, then 100, now 157. But I can honestly say that beating the Lions on Friday night is the only thing that matters to me right now.”

Coach Robert du Preez has made just two changes, bringing in Kerron van Vuuren for the suspended Akker van der Merwe, and at fullback Curwin Bosch is at last back in the starting line-up for the first time this season, but it is not at flyhalf.

Many anticipated Bosch coming in for out-of-form Rob du Preez but the coach has elected to give him another chance. Bosch comes in for youngster Aphelele Fassi, who reverts to the bench.

Du Preez agreed that Bosch’s first start for the Sharks since last year’s Currie Cup was overdue.

“In the beginning of the year Curwin had a couple of niggles and a concussion, so he never got going early on. But I thought he did really well when he came on against the Bulls,” the coach said.

It was put to the coach that a disaffected Bosch was in talks with the Stormers with a view to moving to the Cape, but he gave this speculation short shrift.

“Rumours do not interest me at all,” he said. “My job is to do everything in my power to make the team win, I can’t be bothered with sideshows.”

Du Preez feels the team does not need a shake-up because the performance against the Bulls was a strong one, in his estimation.

“We have looked at our game and we are happy with how we are playing. Obviously we couldn’t get the win in the end but we dominated all the stats and there was some great stuff from the guys.

“We take some fantastic positives out of that game and that will give us momentum into the Lions match.”

The Sharks need all the positives they can get considering that their three losses so far in the competition have been against the Bulls (twice) and the Stormers, and now they are away to a fourth SA team.

Incidentally, the Sharks’ wins have been against overseas teams in the Sunwolves, Blues and Rebels.

Du Preez says he feels a win in a local derby is as close as the score-lines have been in the derbies.

“The first game against the Bulls we got outplayed,” Du Preez acknowledged. “Against the Stormers we lost the physical battle, and then this latest game against the Bulls we played some outstanding rugby but somehow lost.”