British & Irish Lions

Kitshoff on prospect of taking No 1 jersey from Bok great Beast: 'A massive honour and privilege'

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Steven Kitshoff (Getty)
Steven Kitshoff (Getty)

Springbok loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has expressed his gratitude to have honed his craft with the guidance of legendary prop Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira.

Kitshoff was part of the 'Bomb squad', the feared set of forward replacements thrown in by 2019 World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus to break opposition sides in the last 20 minutes in the global showpiece.

Kitshoff was back-up to Mtawarira and fondly remembers watching the Zimbabwean-born prop destroyed Phil Vickery in the scrums during the 2009 British and Irish Lions.

'Beast' is the third-most capped Bok of all time, and 29-year-old Kitshoff is now poised to face the British & Irish Lions, with the first Test to be played on July 23 at Cape Town Stadium.

Now that Kitshoff is the definite frontrunner to make the number one jersey for his own, he says he will do everything to continue the legacy that 'Beast' has created.

"Back in 2009, I was still in Grade 11, so it was awesome as a kid watching "Beast" [Tendai Mtawarira], and I'll try my best if I get selected for the Springboks to represent and uphold that jersey as best as I can," said Kitshoff.

"It is always going to be one of the hardest tournaments any player will participate in. If you think about the British & Irish Lions and a Rugby World Cup, it is going to be up there with one of the toughest couple of weeks in your life.

"Playing with Beast for a couple of years was a massive honour, and it was a great privilege to learn from him and help out where I can.

"We all know he is a great legend in the game and in South African rugby.

"When it comes to my mental approach, it's going to be similar. It is about doing my job as well as I can for the team and sacrificing myself for the Springbok and the greater good of the team."

Kitshoff reacted to concerns that the Springboks would enter the Lions series less prepared than the opposition, saying: "We came together as a team this week, and some of the guys last week, but as Deon [Davids, Springbok assistant coach] said, we will take it day by day and get our stuff in order, especially the clarity and aspects we want to get right on the field so that we can try to play to our strengths as best as possible.

"The Lions will bring a big challenge, but the South African forwards are also among the best."

Zoning in on the British & Irish Lions, Kitshoff spoke highly of Irish tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong: 'I think he is a very good tighthead. He has shown it over the last couple of years.

"He has really represented Ireland very well, and in the previous British & Irish Lions series [in New Zealand in 2017], he played really well for the team.

"I've known him since I was 20 years old. I played against him for the Junior Boks, and I've had a couple of games against him since.

"He is a world-class player, but I am not taking anything away from our tightheads at the Springboks. They are world-class players that can rock up any day and out-scrum the opposition."

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