Beast reveals the man who moved him from loose forward to prop
Cape Town - Tendai Mtawarira has opened up on the prospect of earning his 100th Test cap for the Springboks this weekend.
The 32-year-old will become the first black African, and six South African, to reach that milestone when he takes to the field against England in the second Test in Bloemfontein.
It will be a moment of history for the Zimbabwe-born front-rower, and in a video interview with local broadcaster SuperSport, Mtawarira explained how this moment was about more than just his own achievement.
Mtawarira, who started out his career as a loose forward in the Sharks' youth structures, says that earning his 100th cap is a celebration of the African continent.
"It's pretty insane. I was going down memory lane in the last week just thinking about all those moments right in the beginning of my career," he said.
"I remember coming to the Sharks Academy as an eager young man just wanting to impress the coaches and get a spot in the Sharks team and that's all I was thinking about at the time."
Mtawaria recalls the precise moment that his career changed paths.
"I remember that moment. It was Dick Muir. He called me into the office. I was playing for the U-21s in the Currie Cup as a loose forward/lock," Mtawarira explained.
"He called me in and said: 'Beasty, I really like the way you play. But I don't see you making it as a loose forward. I think if you convert to the front row and become a loosehead prop, that change could be really great for you and, who knows, you could become a Springbok'.
"In that very moment I didn't believe him and I was upset because I had been working my whole career playing in the back row. I saw myself playing there forever and here was somebody trying to challenge me and make me change my body shape and everything ... it was a really big challenge."
Mtawarira added that the support he had recieved from all over Africa over the years had been phenomenal.
"It's really humbling. All over Africa people rally behind me and support me," he said.
"From the very start when I was in Zimbabwe as a young boy, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be on this platform.
"It's not just about me, it's bigger than me. It's about the whole of Africa just being a shining light and showing that you can make it no matter where you come from. That's the biggest legacy I want to leave behind.
"There is a whole lot as a person that I've learnt over the years. The game has been great to me and it changed my life."
Kick-off on Saturday will be at 17:05.