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Kumbirai named in Sharks’ Super Rugby squad

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN prop Michael Kumbirai will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his retired legendary compatriot Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira after being named in a new look 45-man Sharks squad for the upcoming 2020 Super Rugby season.

A promising tight head prop, Kumbirai joined the Sharks ahead of the new season from the Cape Town franchise Western Province in a move that coincided with Mtawarira’s departure after leading South Africa to World Cup glory in Japan.

The 23-year-old has been part of the Province set up since moving from Pretoria in 2015, featuring regularly in the Vodacom Cup and the Currie Cup but struggled to break into the franchise’s Super Rugby outfit the Stormers last year.

Having been on the fringes of the Stormers side, Kumbirai will be eager to make an impression at the Durban franchise which was home to Mtawarira during his illustrious career before his recent move to the USA.

Prior to his move to Sharks, Kumbirai expressed his desires to follow in the footsteps of the Beast, whom he regards as his role model in the sport.

“Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) is a guy who I model myself on, and who wouldn’t – every prop at some stage has been called Beast (and liked it),” said Kumbirai.

“He has set a great example. It is a real achievement to play over 100 games for the Springboks and I would love to graduate to a higher level myself one day. I had an opportunity to talk to Beast when we trained with the Springboks before we went on tour to France. It was great to interact with him and learn a bit from his extensive knowledge.”

Kumbirai, who is the third born in a family of four, was born in Pretoria’s leafy suburb of Arcadia to Zimbabwean parents Joyce, a retired business executive and Peter, a successful orthopedic surgeon.

While Kumbirai’s first introduction to rugby came at Waterkloof House Preparatory School, it was at St. Albans College where he made his biggest impression, earning selection to the Blue Bulls for the 2014 Craven Week and ultimately SA Schools selection later that year.

Kumbirai signed up to the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch after leaving school and represented the WP under-19 side as well as WP under-21, but his progress was halted by injuries.

Kumbirai has set his sights on following in Mtawarira’s footsteps by pursuing an international rugby career with South Africa rather than representing Zimbabwe.

“I definitely believe I can reach higher honours‚” Kumbirai said. “I know tighthead is not the most glamorous position on the field‚ but I’d love to be able to make it a cool position because it is a vital position.

“I’m not exactly sure how to make it cool‚ but I guess if you play well and have a meaningful impact on the game then children want to play in that position.”

Should Kumbirai realise his dream of playing for the Springboks, he would have emulated the likes of the Mtawarira, Brian Mujati and Tonderai Chavhanga who have all represented South Africa since the turn of the millennium.

SHARKS SUPER RUGBY SQUAD

Forwards – Andisa Ntsila, Celimpilo Gumede, Craig Burden, Dylan Richardson, Emile van Heerden, Evan Roos, Fezokuhle Mbatha, Henco Venter, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, JJ van der Mescht, John-Hubert Meyer, Jordan Sesink-Clee, Juan Schoeman, Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu, Le Roux Roets, Tera Mtembu, Michael Kumbirai, Mzamo Majola, Ox Nche, Phepsi Buthelezi, Ruben van Heerden, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul

Backs – Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Cameron Wright, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Jeremy Ward, Jordan Chait, JP Pietersen, Louis Schreuder, Lukhanyo Am (capt), Lwazi Mvovo, Madosh Tambwe, Makazole Mapimpi, Marius Louw, Murray Koster, Sanele Nohamba, Sbu Nkosi, Thaakir Abrahams