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Mtawarira poised for Bok milestone

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira is poised to become the sixth Springbok player and the first black African player to play a 100 Test matches for the Springboks on Saturday.

Springbok prop Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira is poised to become the sixth Springbok player and the first Black African player to play a 100 Test matches for the Springboks in the second Test against England at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"Beast" as he is so affectionately known by millions of South African rugby fans, was born on 1 August 1985 in Harare Zimbabwe, 32 years ago. Mtawarira left his native Zimbabwe to join the Sharks in 2005, where he played for the under-21 side as a loose forward.

It didn’t take long for Beast’s power and strength to be noticed in the senior ranks of the Sharks. Head coach at the time, Dick Muir, convinced Beast to make the switch from a rampaging loose forward to loose-head prop, and eventually gave him a Super Rugby debut in 2007 at just 21-years-old.

Springbok number 797 has never looked back since his provincial debut and a year later he made his international debut against Wales at Loftus. Mtawarira took to International rugby like a duck to water, earning South African Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year nominations in his first season at the highest level.

Mtawarira has been the cornerstone of the Springbok scrum for over a decade and has enjoyed plenty of success in the Bok jersey. Beast was part of the successful Tri-Nations and British and Irish Lions squads of 2009.

The Beast has also been to two Rugby World Cups in New Zealand in 2011 and England in 2015 where he played all of the Springboks' games and the burly prop’s career also consists of a 32-game consecutive starting streak.

Mtawarira will now add another milestone to an already glistening career when he runs out for the 100th time in a Bok jersey this weekend. The Beast will join an illustrious list that includes, John Smit, Percy Montgomery, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield to reach 100 caps for South Africa.

The feat is extraordinary considering that he will be the first front row forward and first ever black African player to reach the milestone.

Such is the shy reserved nature of the Beast, it is without doubt that he will deflect the emotion and attention of the milestone to the importance of trying to seal the three-Test match series in Bloemfontein before the last Test match in Cape Town in a fortnight's time.

But this achievement should be celebrated, not only for the fact that he is the first black African to reach the milestone, but from a holistic point of view that transformation in rugby is bearing the ripe fruits that an inclusive South Africa yearns for.

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