Tendai (Beast) Mtawarira will make his 100th Test appearance for South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday in the second Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against England, becoming only the sixth Springbok to reach this special milestone.
Only five other players have reached 100 Test caps for the Springboks. They are Percy Montgomery (in 2008), John Smit, Victor Matfield (both in 2010), Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers (both in 2014).
Kick-off at the Free State Stadium is at 17:05.
The 32-year-old Mtawarira, better known as “Beast”, is the first Springbok prop to reach a century of Test caps and he joins an elite group of only seven props who have made 100 or more Test appearances.
Mtawarira will anchor the Springbok scrum in his milestone Test alongside hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe, who makes a return to the front row after a lengthy absence due to injury.
Malherbe’s inclusion is one of only two changes in the starting team that beat England 42-39 last weekend in Johannesburg. He replaces his Stormers team mate Wilco Louw. The other change sees Pieter-Steph du Toit returning to the starting fifteen in the No 7 jersey, with Jean-Luc du Preez moving to the bench, while Jesse Kriel will replace Elton Jantjies on the bench.
Mtawarira made his Springbok debut exactly 10 years ago against Wales, on 14 June 2008 in Pretoria at the age of 22. The following year he was an instrumental figure in the Springbok tight five as he helped to steer the South Africans to a memorable 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions.
Since then, the soft-spoken front rower has established himself as a mainstay for the Cell C Sharks – he has 146 Vodacom Super Rugby caps to his name – and the Springboks. Apart from his 99 Tests, Mtawarira has also played in three tour matches for the Springboks to date, with two Test tries to his name.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, paid tribute to Mtawarira, whom he described as a great servant to Springbok rugby and a very good professional.
“Much like a typical front rower, ‘Beast’ is not someone who likes the spotlight. However, his contribution to Springbok rugby during the past decade has been enormous and I want to congratulate him on reaching 100 Test caps for South Africa. It is a special achievement and while he deserves the accolades, I know he will be totally focussed on the most important job, and that is to face an extremely determined England side on Saturday in Bloem,” said Erasmus.
Erasmus added that an improved performance will be needed from the Springboks when the two sides meet again at the Toyota Stadium.
“England is a powerful side and I know Eddie Jones will have his team super prepared for Saturday,” said Erasmus. They will no doubt want to bounce back to level the series, so it’s going to be another huge Test of our resolve and character,” Erasmus concluded.
The Springbok team to face England in Bloemfontein: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. S’busiso Nkosi, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Siya Kolisi (captain), 5. Franco Mostert, 4. RG Snyman, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Bongi Mbonambi and 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Akker van der Merwe, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Thomas du Toit, 19. Jean-Luc du Preez, 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Jesse Kriel and 23. Warrick Gelant.
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