His future with the Springboks a touchy subject, Madosh Tambwe is determined to “repay” coach Jake White by helping the Vodacom Bulls beat the Stormers in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final on Saturday, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
The Congo-born wing, who has been linked with a move to Top 14 side Bordeaux next season, has been in sensational form for the Bulls and scored eight tries ahead of the much-anticipated URC showdown at Cape Town Stadium.
It had been widely reported that Tambwe did not have a South African passport and he, along with Congolese loose forwards Emmanuel and Vincent Tshituka, are understood to be in the process of finalising their SA citizenship.
Yet, Tambwe’s prospects of playing Test rugby in the green and gold remains in limbo. Speaking at a Bok media conference on Tuesday, coach Jacques Nienaber said Tambwe is “not a South African citizen” and, until he and the Tshitukas have completed the citizenship process, they cannot be selected.
Asked what the status is regarding his eligibility and if he wants to play for the Boks, a bemused Tambwe told reporters: “To that question, I’ll follow the media and hear what the media say because to my knowledge I travelled [overseas] with the Bulls and I don’t see any other badge on my passport other than the [SA] coat of arms.
“All I know is that last week I was in Ireland with the team, so I don’t know what more to say to that.” Pressed for a definitive answer on if he has an SA passport, the 24-year-old responded: “Yes.”
The Bulls delivered a performance worthy of a final to overpower Leinster in a hard-fought 27-26 win at the RDS Arena on Friday to eliminate the defending champions and advance to the URC decider.
Tambwe has reiterated skipper Marcell Coetzee’s mantra to “treat every game like a final”, so the former Sharks and Lions speedster aims to lift the URC trophy in the Mother City and sign off his stint with the Bulls in style.
He added: “If you look at how the game ended in Dublin we didn’t jump and celebrate the way we did against the Sharks [in the quarter-finals]. Before the game we told ourselves, ‘This is not the final’ and irrespective of what the result is there is one more game to be played.
“I’m not thinking of it as my last game but as a final, and my main priority is to win. Saying that, I’d love to end my spell at the Bulls with the trophy.
“Working with coach Jake has been tremendous, he has honestly brought the best out of me. He has challenged me in many ways, and not just as a rugby player, off the field too.
“When I spoke to him about my move to the Top 14 he understood it, as much as he has been adamant about me not leaving. But I want to give back to him because he uplifted my career from when I got here and the one thing I can do in terms of repaying him is play my socks off in hopefully securing that trophy and bring it back to Loftus.”
On the prospect of facing the Stormers and the red-hot back three of Seabelo Senatla, Warrick Gelant and Leolin Zas, who is an injury concern for the Capetonians, Tambwe said: “Credit to them, they’ve played well. Zas is the top try-scorer – Senatla right behind him – and Boogie [Gelant] is a great player.
“But it all comes down to Saturday, the planning, the bounce of the ball … any lethal back three likes space and if we can close the space down, I think we’ll be in good hands.”