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June 14, 2018 | Africa

Mtawarira set to become Springbok centurion

AFP
Prop Tendai Mtawarira will become the second black player to earn 100 Springbok caps when he faces England on Saturday..  By WIKUS DE WET (AFP/File)
Prop Tendai Mtawarira will become the second black player to earn 100 Springbok caps when he faces England on Saturday.. By WIKUS DE WET (AFP/File)

South Africa prop Tendai Mtawarira will become only the second black to represent the country 100 times when he lines up against England in Bloemfontein Saturday.

Bryan Habana, who retired this year, was the first to achieve the feat, making 124 Test appearances.

Victor Matfield, John Smit, Jean de Villiers and Percy Montgomery are the other Springbok centurions.

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus hailed Mtawarira as "a great servant of the game" when he chose him for the second Test against England.

Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira was named Thursday in a team showing two changes from that which started a thrilling 42-39 first Test triumph over England in Johannesburg last Saturday.

Injury-plagued Frans Malherbe got the nod at tighthead prop in place of Wilco Louw, who Erasmus said was "punch-drunk" from playing so much rugby this year.

Flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces Jean-Luc du Preez, giving South Africa an extra lineout option.

Erasmus described 32-year-old Mtawarira, popularly known as 'The Beast', as "a great servant of the game and Springbok rugby and a very good professional.

"Much like a typical front rower, 'Beast' is not someone who likes the spotlight," said Erasmus of the forward who avoided media interviews this week.

"However, his contribution to Springbok rugby during the past decade has been enormous and I want to congratulate him on reaching 100 Test caps for South Africa.

"It is a special achievement and while he deserves the accolades, I know he will be totally focused on facing an extremely determined England side on Saturday in Bloemfontein."

Erasmus said South Africa would have to improve on a dramatic victory last weekend if they hoped to win again and clinch the three-Test series with a match to spare.

"England are a powerful side and I know Eddie Jones will have his team super prepared for Saturday," warned Erasmus.

"They will no doubt want to bounce back to level the series, so it is going to be another huge Test of our resolve and character."

There are also two changes to the bench with Du Preez replacing Du Toit and winger/centre Jesse Kriel preferred to fly-half Elton Jantjies.

South Africa trounced England 58-10 the last time they met in Bloemfontein, a record winning margin for them over the Red Rose.

Team (15-1)

Willie le Roux; Sibusiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Franco Mostert, RG Snyman; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Jean-Luc du Preez, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ivan van Zyl, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant

Coach: Rassie Erasmus (RSA)

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