Rassie Erasmus says everyone will have cause for celebration when Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira wins his 100th Test cap this Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports from Bloemfontein.
The Boks head into the second Test against England with confidence and momentum. Another victory at the Free State Stadium this Saturday will earn the hosts a series victory and ensure a positive start to the Erasmus era.
There will be a special moment before kickoff when Mtawarira runs out to win his 100th Test cap. The decorated prop will become the sixth Bok – and the first black African – to hit triple figures.
Erasmus is well aware of what this moment will mean for people across South Africa, and indeed Mtawarira’s native Zimbabwe.
On Monday, the Bok coach didn’t even bother with the whole ‘I can’t comment on that until I’ve selected the team’ routine. After the question was asked, Erasmus assured those at the press conference that ‘Beast will be picked’.
‘It’s great,’ said Erasmus. ‘How many players can say that they’ve achieved that? I played 39 times for the Boks, and it felt like a lot. For a guy to reach 100 is phenomenal.
‘For a guy who started as a lock at provincial level and now to consolidate and play 100 Tests at prop is unbelievable. What he brings to the party is great.
‘Beast should be proud of himself. All of us should be proud of him too.’
Mtawarira was part of the Bok side that won a series against the British & Irish Lions and the Tri-Nations title in 2009. Nine years later, and he remains a key player at the set piece.
The loosehead prop was one of the standout performers for the Boks in their recent 42-39 win over England at Ellis Park.
IN OUR LATEST ISSUE: Beast on what the milestone means to him
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