JOHANNESBURG. — Sharks’ Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira says he never thought he would one day become the most capped South African in Super Rugby history.
That is exactly what will happen today, though, when the Sharks take on the Lions at Ellis Park.
Mtawarira will earn his 157th Super Rugby cap, moving one ahead of former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss, who ended on 156 having represented both the Bulls and the Cheetahs in his career.
“It’s mind-boggling to realise that I’ve played so many games,” the man affectionately known as “Beast” told media in Durban on Wednesday.
“I never thought about achieving big milestones in my career. I just wanted to keep on improving and that every opportunity I got to pull on the jersey was an opportunity for me to play my heart out.
“I focused on enjoying every single game and every moment. Before I knew it, it was 50 games and then 100 and now 157 on Saturday. I’m just very grateful.”
It was a long time ago, but Mtawarira still remembers his Super Rugby debut vividly.
“It was against the Waratahs in 2007,” he recalled.
“I got picked by Dick Muir on the bench and I came on for the last 20 minutes.
“We won that game and went on to have a great season and we lost to the Bulls right here at Kings Park.”
That final was the one where that famous Bryan Habana try broke Sharks hearts, but that season was the beginning of what will go down as one of the most illustrious careers in the history of Springbok rugby.
Kick-off in Johannesburg today is at 7:10pm.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Stephan Lewies, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Hacjivah Dayimani, 23 Sylvian Mahuza/Wandisile Simelane
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Aphelele Fassi