The power of Tendai, The Beast
Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis explains how the feared Tendai (The Beast) Mtawarira provides the solid foundation for attacks and why he is an asset to South African rugby.
1. One of the best
Tendai is one of the best attacking loosehead props in the world as a scrum worker. He makes a quick hit, gets his back straight and focuses on the middle of his opponent’s chest, seldom getting caught on the back foot.
Some scrum workers are defensively minded and only intent on survival, but not the Beast.
He keeps the scrum in the air with brute force and it falls very little when he plays for the Boks.
I think he is one of the strongest rugby players in the world, with enormous strength in his arms, back and legs.
It was evident a few months ago when he supported Anton Bresler in a match and kept this big man in the air with his arms. Not many players would have been able to do that.
3. A few cameos
As a scrumming machine, Tendai produced an excellent display against Phil Vickery, the British and Irish Lions’ experienced tighthead prop, during the 2009 series.
Phil suffered at the hands of the Beast in Durban in the first test. Earlier in the current Vodacom Super Rugby season against the Highlanders, Tendai was splendid in the scrums against Chris King and All Blacks Andrew Hore and Jamie Mackintosh.
4. The Hitman
Defensively, he is arguably the best prop in the world.
When he hits attackers with the full force of his body in a fearsome tackle, some of them stay down for several moments in order to recover. That is why I call him the Hitman.
Tendai is very adaptable, as he played flank and eighth man earlier in his career.
He is a very strong runner, thanks to a superb leg drive, but he also knows exactly where to attack the advantage line. The timing of his runs to hit the defensive line close to the rucks is excellent.
6. Not a soft target
While Tendai appears to be soft-natured, he is no easy target for players who want to soften him up with a few body blows or choice words.
He is as tough as nails and won’t stand back, but he won’t retaliate by reverting to the dark arts of dirty play.
Tendai is a warrior and a man every rugby franchise would love to have in their ranks.