Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira has been hailed as a rugby legend as he prepares to equal Adriaan Strauss’ record as the most capped South African Super Rugby player.
Mtawarira will make his 156th appearance in the competition against the Bulls at Kings Park but he is still some way behind retired Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett who holds the overall record with 202 matches for the nine-time champions.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez is acutely aware of how much the Sharks depend on the loosehead prop whose nickname is chanted by Kings Park crowd every time he touches the ball. Beast is now 33-years-old and has won 107 Springbok caps and Du Preez spoke for a nation when he said: “When you speak about Beast‚ you need a long time to talk about him. It’s not a cliché but he’s a true legend of the game and he’s been immense for us this year with his leadership on and off the field.”
Strauss played for the Cheetahs and then the Bulls and was a test front row colleague of Mtawarira’s but the prop has remained with the Sharks throughout his career which started in 2007. The problem facing Mtawarira and his team mates in trying to register a win to mark the prop’s achievement is their dreadful record against the Bulls who have veteran hooker Schalk Brits in their front row
The Bulls beat the Sharks 37-14 earlier this month in Pretoria and that extended their recent domination over their fellow South Africans. In the last eight matches between teams, the Bulls have seven wins and a draw which is a record of success going back to 2014.
Sharks midfield options have been limited after centre Marius Louw was suspended by a Sanzaar Foul Play Committee for three weeks to join fellow centre, Jeremy Ward in the stands. Ward was given a five-week suspension for a reckless and dangerous tackle in the match against the Bulls in Pretoria and Louw was penalised for the same offence on a Rebels player at the weekend.