'It never grows old to play for the Bokke‚' says 'Beast' Mtawarira
After 113 Test matches and three Rugby World Cups (RWC)‚ Tendai Mtawarira is not trying to think about his career’s inexorable sunset.
This will almost certainly be the 34-year-old’s last RWC but he doesn’t seem ready to drop the curtain on his Test career‚ just yet.
“I don’t think the end is near‚” he said with a grin while suddenly facing down in a press conference on Thursday.
Just when it looked like ‘The Beast’ was a spent force he came back this season a rejuvenated man.
The Springboks have several front row options but his performances‚ coupled of course‚ with his experience has made him a hard man to ignore.
He may be in the twilight of his Test career but he keeps on taking things on board.
“I have learnt a helluva lot from my mistakes in the past and have taken in a lot of lessons‚" he said.
"I always try and take that on board and be better and work on myself.
“It’s about hard work‚ staying on top of my game and staying focused.
"That has been the secret to my success. Every opportunity that I get to play I want to show what it means to my teammates.”
His enduring love for the Bok jersey clearly hasn’t faded.
The Zimbabwean-born player treasures every Test in the Green and Gold.
“It never grows old to play for the Bokke‚" he said.
"It is the biggest thing in my life‚ it is something I respect.”
With the Bok front row stocks in rude health‚ Mtawarira has also had to be patient this year.
Steven Kithoff is a young buck with rich potential and Mtawarira has had to start from the bench in the matches that really mattered.
That‚ however‚ changed this week when the Bok brains trust thought he would be the better starter for their crunch clash against Italy in Shizuoka.
Not that it matters to him.
“For me it is not really about starting or coming off the bench but it is playing my role in the team as best as I can.
"I just want to make sure every opportunity I get to get onto the field I give my utmost best for the jersey.
“I realise more than ever that it is a huge honour to put on that Springbok jersey.
"I want to make sure whether it is 20 minutes‚ 40 minutes I go out and give my heart for the team‚” said Mtawarira.