Sharks prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira says he never thought he would become the most capped South African in Vodacom Super Rugby history.
Mtawarira will overtake the retired Adriaan Strauss’ record of 156 Super Rugby caps when he starts against the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday night.
The 33-year-old, who in 2018 became the first black African to play 100 Tests for the Springboks, told the media on Wednesday that setting a new Super Rugby record was never on his mind.
‘It’s actually mindboggling to realise I’ve played so many games,’ Mtawarira said. ‘I never thought about achieving milestones in my career, I was always committed to just improving all the time.
‘Every opportunity I got to put on the jersey was an opportunity to play my heart out. I’ve always focused on enjoying every single game and every moment that I got to play this wonderful game. Before I knew it, I’d played 50 games, then 100, and now 157 on Friday.
‘I’m grateful to the Lord for looking out for me and I’ve been very fortunate on the injury front, I haven’t had many bad injuries over the course of my career.
‘It’s been an amazing ride, I’ve had great mentors – coaches and teammates – who have really pushed me. They inspired me to be better, to work hard and never rest on my laurels.’
Mtawarira arrived in Durban as a utility lock and flank. However, former Sharks coach Dick Muir saw something special in him and shifted him to loosehead prop, where he made his Super Rugby debut in 2007.
‘I can still remember my first game,’ Mtawarira recalled. ‘It was against the Waratahs in the Super 14 and I came on with 20 minutes remaining. What was memorable about that game was that we won it.
‘We went on to have an amazing season and played in the final. Sadly, we lost to the Bulls at Kings Park, but it was a great year.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images