JOHANNESBURG – Beast Mtawarira is ready to give his “mind, body and soul” to the Springboks cause as they chase World Cup glory later this year.
Mtawarira, who has played in 107 Tests for his country and pretty much seen and done it all, wants one more thing out of the game: the William Webb Ellis trophy.
“Winning the World Cup would be everything,” said the 33-year-old yesterday, just days out from the start of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship.
With the World Cup kicking off in late September this year’s annual showdown between Australian, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa will comprise just one round of matches.
The Boks open their challenge with a match against the Wallabies at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“I’ve worked hard for everything (in my career), and to be a part of a successful (World Cup winning) team would be everything. Right now it is all I am thinking about. I want to work harder to be there and to be able to contribute to the team.
“I’m super excited. For the last four years the World Cup is all I’ve been thinking about. It’s a big occasion this year ... and I’m going to give my mind, body and soul to the Boks. You can be sure I’m going to show up every game.”
The experienced loosehead has been to two previous World Cups, in 2011 and 2015, and played under no less than four national coaches: Peter de Villiers, Heyneke Meyer, Allister Coetzee and Rassie Erasmus. And he said yesterday the work done behind the scenes by Erasmus and Co to ensure the Boks are well prepared ahead of the Test season has been unlike anything he’s seen before.
“The planning has been great, and hats off to the coach and management team. With Rassie, you know exactly what he’s talking about, and I’ve never had a better coach in terms of giving one that kind of direction,” said Mtawarira. “The management team laid out a plan early on, and everyone has bought into it.
“In terms of the squad that’s been picked, it’s well balanced; there’s experience and there are also good youngsters coming through. I’d say we’ve got everything we need to be successful; all that’s left for us now is to go out and play and execute.”
Mtawarira hasn’t played any rugby since late April when he suffered an MCL injury, which cut short his Super Rugby campaign. But he said he is ready to take the field.
“My last match was against the Waratahs (at the end of April), when I picked up a grade two MCL. I’ve now had a lot of time to recover, also from other niggles, so feel fresh again,” he said. “I’ve been put through my paces the last few weeks and I feel great, ready to go out and do my job.”
The Boks meanwhile have suffered a blow with the news that wing Aphiwe Dyantyi has a hamstring injury and won’t be available for selection in the next few weeks. The Lions man has seen a specialist to discuss a treatment plan.@jacq_west