'We're looking forward to getting better this weekend,' says Mtawarira
Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Mahlatse “Chilliboy” Ralepelle are the only surviving members from the 2009 Peter de Villiers-coached Springbok squad that beat Australia in Perth.
In fact‚ they are the only players in Allister Coetzee's current squad that know what winning the Tri-Nations (now Rugby Championship) felt like.
Due to unfair treatment‚ injuries‚ an overseas move‚ a drugs ban and the massive presence of Bismarck du Plessis‚ Ralepelle's career has been limited to just 22 Tests with only two starts since his debut in 2006.
Mtawarira only bounced into the international block in 2008 but his 92-Test career has been almost uninterrupted.
Competition has been tough through the years but fitness hasn't failed him even though form deserted him at times.
However‚ he still remains the cornerstone of an improving Bok scrum that not only held its own against a fancied French eight‚ but asked questions their Argentinean counterparts couldn't respond to in two Tests.
Saturday's Rugby Championship encounter with the Wallabies at Perth's nib Stadium will not only be Mtawarira's fifth Test in the Western Australia capital‚ but his 93rd outing‚ extending his record as the most capped Springbok prop.
The Australian scrum has rightly come under scrutiny for its deficiencies but Mtawarira was only happy to talk about the benefits of “live scrumming” as good preparation.
“Live scrumming has benefitted us as a pack and I think it's the best way to prepare for a Test match because you won't be up against a scrumming machine on a Saturday‚" Mtawarira said.
"There's a pack in front of you and we make things pretty difficult for each other.
"There are different scenarios and you always make sure you work on those things. It's all muscle memory on a Saturday. That is a good thing and we need to keep at it.
“We just need to keep our discipline and thanks to coach Matt Proudfoot‚ we try to control the situations and everybody makes sure it's all for the benefit of the team on a Saturday.”
Having experienced every up-and-down of the Bok scrum in the past nine years‚ Mtawarira is handily placed in terms of knowing where the current group is in terms of challenging the best.
In recent years‚ Argentina have been the Boks' acid Test in terms of scrumming but New Zealand have also examined the Boks' strengths and weaknesses with varying degrees of success.
Mtawarira is aware‚ though‚ that you're only as good as your last showing and Australia can spring a few surprises.
“The scrum has really gone well in the first two games but we remain a work in progress.
"The one thing about us now is that we want to keep improving every weekend and the Wallabies present quite a tough challenge up front.
"We need to make sure we get those one percenters right and get better week in‚ week out‚” Mtawarira said.
“As a front row‚ we're quite young and we are still growing.
"Every weekend is an opportunity for us to get better and we're looking forward to getting better this weekend.”