Cheerful Mbonambi savours 50th Bok cap, jokingly looks to 100: 'It hasn't been an easy journey'

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Bongi Mbonambi runs out for his 50th Test cap. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
Bongi Mbonambi runs out for his 50th Test cap. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi could not have asked for a better way to celebrate his 50th Test match for the green and gold.

His family graced the occasion; it was in front of a Cape Town crowd; the Springboks won the series and he scored what has become a routine try for him from the back of a rolling maul.

He became the 45th Bok to reach 50 Tests, having made his debut against Ireland in 2016.

"It hasn't been an easy journey," Mbonambi said after the game.

"To be a Springbok, it never is an easy journey and I just take it day by day. It took me longer to get here but I'm very honoured and humbled by the experience."

He said the week was characterised by ensuring that the team prepared well, rather than the individual achievements (including Eben Etzebeth's 100) that would be celebrated.

His career received the boost it needed when the 31-year-old moved to Western Province and the Stormers in 2015. He established himself in the Cape before moving to the Sharks in 2021.

At international level, and ahead of his 50th, Mbonambi had started 23 times for the Boks, and come on as a replacement 26 times.

"It's really humbling and amazing. Hopefully I keep building and, God willing, I make it to 100 like Eben," he said with a chuckle. 

Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi embrace.
Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi embrace. (Photo: Bertram Malgas/News24)

When Mbonambi was pulled from the field, the Cape Town Stadium attendees gave him rousing applause. The game, one could say, was a "homecoming" of sorts because of the six years he spent in the Western Cape. 

"It's special to win a series here in front of the fans," Mbonambi said.

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