Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira will start the Sharks match against the Lions making national history when he becomes the most capped South African player in Super Rugby.
It may have been over twelve years ago but Mtawarira vividly remembers his Super Rugby debut, a 22-9 win for the Sharks over the Waratahs in 2007.
“I can still remember my first game,” Mtawarira related to sharksrugby.co.za. “It was against the Waratahs in 2007 in the Super 14, I was picked by our coach, Dick Muir, on the bench and come on with 20 minutes remaining. What was memorable about that game was that we won it.”
Mtawarira played his 100th Test for the Springboks last year and now becomes the most capped SA Super Rugby player but it isn’t about milestones for the front-ranker.
He added: “I never thought about the record (157 games), it’s actually mindboggling to realise I’ve played so many games.
“I never thought about achieving milestones in my career, I was always committed to just improving all the time.
“Every opportunity I got to put on the jersey was an opportunity to play my heart out. I’ve always focused on enjoying every single game and every moment that I got to play this wonderful game.
“Before I knew it, I’d played 50 games, then 100, and now 157 on Friday.”
Mtawarira would desperately love to cap his 157th appearance with a crucial win over the Lions on Friday but not for his own sake.
He said: “For me, definitely the team comes first and we know what we need to do. We played really well against the Vodacom Bulls but the only thing we didn’t do was winning the game. We’re hungry to get a good victory so we’re focusing on this game and the challenge it brings.”
The clash between the Lions and the Sharks will kick off at 19:10 SAST on Friday 5 April.
Lions vs Sharks matchday squads
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 (c), 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 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 (c), 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
Replacements: 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