Veteran prop Beast Mtawarira believes the current Springbok set-up boasts the best team environment he has ever experienced.
Having claimed the Rugby Championship title for the first time since its inception in 2012, there seems to be a revitalised sense of positivity and optimism in the Bok squad after their recent performances.
This positivity was visibly evident in the way the team celebrated after their convincing 46-13 victory over Argentina in Salta on Saturday. After winning their first piece of silverware in a decade, the current squad have certainly given Springbok fans renewed belief ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
According to the 34-year-old, players taking ownership in their respective departments has been key to the team’s success and improved results under coach Rassie Erasmus in recent seasons.
‘It’s been about ownership for the last two years. I think we’ve been growing in that aspect. There’s also a clear plan now, and everyone’s bought into that plan. We’ve tried to work at it, to improve and be consistent when we go out there on a Saturday,’ said Mtawarira after the Boks arrived back in Johannesburg on Monday.
Having made his debut against Wales in 2008, Beast – as he is commonly known – has been part of several Springbok squads and played under a few coaches in his time with the Boks, but was unequivocal when stating that the atmosphere in the current squad is the best that he’s seen.
‘Definitely, it is. That’s the ultimate truth. I’m really enjoying the environment. What excites me about this team is that there are no egos. Everybody wants to give their utmost best for the team, and that is vital to be successful. Everyone is prepared to put in the hard yards and it’s just exciting to be a part of it.’
The Springboks have been quite fortunate, in recent times, to be able to call on the services of quite a few quality front rowers, and Mtawarira believes that the competition for places in the squad will only benefit the team going forward.
‘Competition is great. South Africa is very healthy in the front row, and there’s a lot of talent. Look at a guy like Lizo [Gqoboka] who had an outstanding [Vodacom] Super Rugby season and really deserved his opportunity. There’s great depth in the team. We just want to help each other get better and scrummage consistently every weekend. There’s no animosity, we get along well. There are no individual goals, that’s what really excites me about the team environment right now.’
Mtawarira, the most capped prop in South African history, is set to feature at his third World Cup in Japan in September.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images