Beast predicts great things for Mchunu, Sharks

Beast Mtawarira has high hopes for protege Ntuthuko Mchunu after the young loosehead prop returned from his maiden Springbok experience a better player. DYLAN JACK reports. Mchunu earned his first Springbok call-up and made his Test debut in the home series against Wales in July, capping a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old. PREDICTIONS: Boks to win Rugby Championship Comparisons between Mchunu and Mtawarira are stark, especially since the two have walked a similar path from loose forward to loosehead prop. “He is a special young lad. I have been very privileged to walk the journey with him and be a mentor to him,” Mtawarira told “I was very proud when he made his debut. I had lunch with him afterwards and could see that for him it meant the world to run out onto the field in the green and gold. It meant a lot for him and his family. “He just wants to be a sponge. He wants to learn. When he was there with the Boks, he got to learn from Vincent Koch and Steven Kitshoff because that’s the environment, people help each other out. To get that wealth of experience, World Cup winners helping you out, it’s just going to make him a much better player. He is going to learn so quickly. “I’m excited about his future. He’s back with the Sharks and is one for the future. I believe that he is going to do great things for the Sharks and the Springboks.” The Sharks open their Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign against Zebre in Parma on Friday evening. A busy off and pre-season saw the Durban capture big-name signings in Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Tshuituka and Rohan Janse van Rensburg. TEAM: Rohan to debut for Sharks in Italy Mtawarira expects the Sharks to take a step up and put in a serious challenge for silverware this season. “We are sitting in a great position and have great depth. The additions of Vincent Tshituka and Eben Etzebeth, those guys are going to bring a lot to the fore. “The squad is great. We’ve got a good compliment between experience and youth. I think we are really going to make an ascendancy this season and show we are here for business.” Last August, Mtawarira was appointed to the Sharks board, a role which sees him mentor some of the younger players at the franchise, like Springbok fullback Aphelele Fassi. “I have a strategic advisory role to the board. So I basically spend time with the ownership and do monthly reports on the ground. I have monthly one-on-one meetings with [CEO] Ed [Coetzee]. “I also meet with some of the players and have a mentorship role. I spend time with Nthuthuko, Aphelele, Phepsi [Buthelezi], and all those youngsters. I check in with them and find out if they need any help. I convey those messages to the board. “It’s a great position to be in, representing the players, but also because I am a Sharks man through and through.  So I know what the culture is all about and what will make the team the best in the world.” Photo: Howard Cleland The post Beast predicts great things for Mchunu, Sharks appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.