By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE-BORN South Africa rugby legend Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira relished the chance to mentor younger players during his stint in the USA and hopes to fulfil a similar role in South Africa in future.
Until recently, Mtawarira was part of the set-up at Major Rugby League (MRL) side Old Glory in Washington DC before the tournament was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Beast, who finished his successful Springboks career on the highest possible note by inspiring South Africa to World Cup glory in Japan last November – returned home a couple of weeks ago.
“I was just happy to get back to my family, man,” Mtawarira said in reference to the travel restrictions that have been enforced since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I managed to get back to South Africa a few days before the lockdown. I was relieved.”
The loosehead prop revealed that his move to the USA was inspired by the desire to give back to the sport by inspiring the next generation of rugby players in America, where the game is seeking to boost its popularity.
“Some players chase the big pay cheque at an overseas club after finishing their international careers. I had other reasons for accepting the chance to work with Old Glory in the MLR,” the 34-year-old said.
“I wanted to do something meaningful, and I saw the move to Old Glory as a chance to mentor younger players and help a semi-professional sport in the USA gain more recognition. I’d travelled to the States many times before with my wife, and I couldn’t wait to go back.
“I saw what David Beckham had done for soccer in America during the latter stages of his career. I was hoping to do the same for rugby. I wanted to leave a legacy. Unfortunately, my stay over there was cut short due to the coronavirus.
“I don’t know if I will go back to the States,” he added. “The MLR season has been scrapped and I was only contracted for one year. They want me to come back next year, but I don’t know if I have another season in me.”
The USA’s loss may-be South Africa’s gain.
The vastly experienced prop is passionate about his adopted country and developing the players of tomorrow.
“I’d love to work with younger players on this side,” he said. “I see it as my duty as a retired player. I’d love to impart what I’ve learned and help young players who want to play in the front row.”