Beast ready for Twickenham roar
March 25, 2011
Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira is relishing the Sharks' Twickenham clash with the Crusaders © Getty Images
Sharks prop Tendai Mtawarira is relishing this weekend's Twickenham clash with the Crusaders, although he admits that the attention he generates among his cult following can be "overwhelming".
The 25-year-old has been named on the bench for the Super Rugby showdown, which was switched to the home of English rugby in order to raise funds for the ongoing relief effort following the Christchurch earthquake, and he will doubtless be greeted by familiar cries of 'Beast' when he enters the fray.
"It's a huge honour to have such big following, but sometimes it's overwhelming because it's grown so big so quickly," he said. "Every time I play now it's part of me. It's very special and I absolutely love it. "It's very humbling to have so many people supporting me.
"I think they like me because every time I step onto the field they know I give my best and put my body on the line. There are still a lot of things I want to improve on and I see myself as a very young player."
Mtawarira's overseas fans will have to enjoy this opportunity to see him in action, as he currently has no plans to leave South Africa. "There are no plans to come here just yet - I'm still young!" he said. "I want to play my rugby in South Africa for a bit longer and look to come overseas later on."
The Zimbabwe-born loosehead is pleased the controversy over his eligibility to play for South Africa, which forced him to miss a string of Test matches last summer, has subsided.
"I'm South African. That situation was blown out of all proportion," he said. "I wasn't worried about it because I had the support of the some really great people. I never doubted it would be sorted out but I was glad when it was over."
Meanwhile, the Crusaders have made two changes for the game. All Blacks winger Zac Guildford replaces Adam Whitelock while in the front-row there is a start for Wyatt Crockett in place of Ben Franks. Crockett, who had a big hand in dismantling the Waratahs scrum besides showing a new dimension to his play with hard running in the open in the other games is expecting a fierce front row battle.
"Their front row is pretty impressive, that's where it all starts," said Crockett. "As a front rower myself, it's going to be a big game going hammer and tongs against them."
The priority for him and fellow All Blacks Corey Flynn and Owen Franks is to get a good scrum going against the Sharks. "We aim to keep our combination going and try and work to get a great platform from which to unleash our fantastic backline."
Crusaders: I Dagg; S Maitland, R Fruean, SB Williams, Z Guildford; D Carter, A Ellis; W Crockett, C Flynn, O Frank, B Thorn, S Whitelock, G Whitelock, M Todd, K Read (capt).
Replacements: Q MacDonald, B Franks, C Jack, J Poff, K Fotualii, M Berquist, A Whitelock.
Sharks: L Ludik; O Ndungane, S Terblanche, M Bosman, L Mvovo; JL Potgieter, C McLeod; J Smit (capt), B du Plessis, J du Plessis, S Sykes, A Hargreaves, K Daniel, W Alberts, R Kankowski
Replacements: E van Staden, T Mtawarira, G Mostert, J Botes, C Hoffmann, A Jacobs, JP Pietersen
Tickets for Investec Super Rugby Crusaders v Sharks at Twickenham stadium on March 27(4pm) can be purchased online via rfu.com/tickets or by telephone 0844 847 2492. £5 from each ticket sold will go to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action