Beast predicts that Ireland will use past World Cup ‘choking’ as motivation

 Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

Tendai Mtawarira is backing South Africa’s Rugby World Cup pool rivals, Ireland, to make it beyond the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and potentially win the whole thing.

Mtawarira, nicknamed the ‘Beast’, has a vested interest in how Andy Farrell’s men fare given that they are in the same group as the Boks.

Ireland have tended to peak between World Cups but their form has remained strong this time around, and perhaps even improved in 2023 having won the Grand Slam in March.

Lessons learnt

“I believe that Ireland have learnt from their lessons. Everybody has been on about them choking at the World Cup so I’m sure it will play a key role in motivating them to go on and really perform,” Mtawarira said on the official Rugby World Cup podcast.

“The way they’re playing right now, I don’t see them getting knocked out come play-off time. I think they will go all the way.”

Former Springboks loosehead Mtawarira also believes that the “tide has definitely changed” in regards to the previous dominance of the southern hemisphere nations.

Only one country from the north has won the World Cup – England – but Ireland or hosts France are in a great position to add to that list.

“There has been improvements from the northern hemisphere sides, specifically Ireland and France. I don’t know about England!” he added.

“They (France) can just dismantle any other forward pack on any given day. With a full strength team, they can really give a team like South Africa a tough time.

“They’re the only team that can match us up front, come scrum-time and the driving maul.”

Mtawarira’s South Africa are the defending champions but they endured a mixed Rugby Championship.

Despite starting with a dominant win over Australia, they succumbed to the All Blacks a week later and were unconvincing in the 22-21 triumph over Argentina.

However, this Bok outfit knows how to get into shape during the global tournament and they will look to repeat their 2019 heroics.

Rassie Erasmus, who was head coach four years ago, is still part of the set-up as director of rugby and Mtawarira picked him out as the key figure in South African rugby.

The disruptor

“Rassie is a disruptor, he kind of shakes the tree and that’s what he did with the Springboks. When things were going pear-shaped in 2016 and 2017, he had that outside-in kind of look,” the prop said.

“He saw all those things which were not going well beyond the field of play. He’s very intelligent in his approach and he’s very good at analysing the opposition.

“He’s very good at thinking ahead. That ‘Chasing the Sun’ (documentary) idea was created by him and it was all about showing the authenticity and uniqueness of the Springbok team.

“I highly respect the guy, he’s achieved so much. I know he sometimes does things you wouldn’t expect of him.

“He does like to go against the grain a little bit just to shake the tree and make people uncomfortable.”

READ MORE: Ireland finally reveal why Jean Kleyn was overlooked for their Rugby World Cup squad

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