Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, Sharks and Springbok fullback-cum-wing LWAZI MVOVO talks wedding plans, which comedian makes him laugh the loudest, and the Rugby World Cup heroes he would invite for dinner.
Sport24 asked: Since the Sharks’ final Super Rugby game of 2015, what has occupied your time?
Lwazi Mvovo: I enjoyed a break game-wise which revitalised the body and mind, but I’ve been on a training programme since our last Super Rugby match in order to be prepared for the rest of the season that lies ahead. Away from my rugby commitments, I’ve spent some quality time with my fiancée Stephanie. We are very busy planning our wedding and hope to be married early next year.
Sport24 asked: Who do you room with at national level, and what are his best and worst traits?
Lwazi Mvovo: My room-mate on Springbok duty is Cornal Hendricks. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great guy, but I think he is too neat for his own good. With him, everything must be by the book – a dirty sock must not be in sight. I’m not saying I’m messy in the room – I try to be neat – but Cornal takes it to another level. I can only describe it as military-style. I do, however, enjoy his Boyz II Men renditions. Cornal is serious about his singing and always practices his favourite tunes in our room. I guess I am the only judge. I’m not Simon Cowell, so I can’t really criticise. I tell him to keep on going.
Sport24 asked: Jake White said you have the potential to be the next Christian Cullen. Your take?
Lwazi Mvovo: For Jake to compare me to one of the greats in the game actually motivates me to work harder. Jake is the one who first tried me at fullback, and I remember the training session when he came to me and asked if I would play at No 15. A was surprised at first, because no coach had ever asked me to play in that position. I have come to really enjoy the role as you see more action than when you are stationed on the wing. I enjoy reading the game from the last line of defence.
Sport24 asked: You can also play wing. What does Heyneke Meyer regard as your best position?
Lwazi Mvovo: Like Jake, Heyneke sees my long-term future at fullback. He has told me that I am doing very well at fullback and he is pleased with how my kicking game, in particular, has progressed. I have worked hard on my tactical kicking and I feel my left foot is working very well. I have also practiced catching the high ball, and am now more aware of when to run and when to kick.
Sport24 asked: Who do you regard as the most proficient fullback in the game today and why?
Lwazi Mvovo: While Israel Folau and Israel Dagg are two international players that are right up there, I think Willie le Roux continues to do very well. Whenever he touches the ball, opponents are left wondering what is going to happen. I have trained alongside Willie with the Springboks and his skill level is second to none. He is an unpredictable player and always keeps the opposition guessing.
Sport24 asked: If you could invite two World Cup winners for dinner, who would they be and why?
Lwazi Mvovo: My first pick would be John Smit, as he was the World Cup-winning captain in 2007. Leading a team to the World Cup finals and winning the tournament takes strong leadership and a cool head to make the correct decisions on the field. My second guest would be Joel Stransky. I would like to hear from the man himself what sparked in his mind to go for that now famous drop goal in the second half of extra-time. The Springboks could easily have played a few extra phases.
Sport24 asked: If you were named South Africa’s Sports Minister what would you do differently?
Lwazi Mvovo: I would pay more attention to youth development across the sporting codes and have a long-term goal in mind. Why can’t the next Lionel Messi or Usain Bolt be a South African? I believe the correct structures need to be put in place – we must develop our youth from as early as Grade 2. Many of our athletes and teams struggle when it comes to international competition and they bear the brunt of criticism. As Minister of Sport and Recreation, I would support them behind the scenes.
Sport24 asked: Which comedian, local or international, do you most enjoy watching and why?
Lwazi Mvovo: Trevor Noah, because he is unafraid to push the envelope. He has changed the face of South African comedy. As the new host of The Daily Show, he is doing very well not just for himself, but for the country. Until Trevor came along, we never watched stand-up comedy on the team bus. I’m not saying other local comedians aren’t entertaining, but Trevor has put SA comedy on the map.
Joe van Niekerk