BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, (Reuters) - South Africa forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has called on the Springbok pack to “honour” prop forward Tendai Mtawarira with a dominant performance in Saturday’s second test against England.
Roars of “Beast” from the crowd have been heard in stadiums around the world every time the Zimbabwe-born loosehead has had ball in hand since making his Bok debut in 2008 and he now stands on the brink of 100 caps for his adopted country.
He put in an impressive performance in South Africa’s thrilling 42-39 victory in the first test and will look to celebrate with his century with a series win.
The 32-year-old’s affectionate nickname belies a softly spoken front-rower who has built a fan-base inside and out of South Africa, and will reach his milestone if, as expected, he starts against England.
Mtawariwa will become the sixth Bok after former lock Victor Matfield (127 caps), winger Bryan Habana (124), hooker John Smit (111), centre Jean de Villiers (109) and fullback Percy Montgomery (102) to reach three figures.
“It will be a fantastic achievement for a very good man,” Proudfoot told reporters on Tuesday.
“He is already the most capped front-row forward (for the Boks) and I would love to see a stat on how many of those he came off the bench. I think a big percentage of his caps are starts.
“If it does happen for Beast it will be something to savour and I would love to see the pack respond to that and make it a special occasion, and that we honour him accordingly.”
Of Mtawariwa’s previous 99 tests, he has started 90 and coach Rassie Erasmus said he would play a part in Bloemfontein.
“He will definitely get picked,” Erasmus said. “It’s great. I played 39 times for the Springboks and for me that felt like a lot, so for a guy to reach 100 is phenomenal.
“To play at prop for 100 test matches is unbelievable. What he brings to the party is great. He can be proud of himself and all of us can be proud of him.”
Mtawariwa made his debut against Wales in Pretoria in 2008 and played in the last two World Cups.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond