THE BEAST sent a chilling warning to Warren Gatland about The Ox.
Lions boss Gatland claimed to have already ‘dented the ego’ of the Springboks by dominating the set-piece battle against South Africa ‘A’ last week.
It was a match the tourists lost 17-13 and with a chuckle, 2009 hero Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira warned giant prop Ox Nche and South Africa‘s pack will be fired up by that taunt.
Mtawarira, 35, said: “I don’t think that is the right route to go, eh?
“I would advise against it because he might just set off a bomb! We tend to respond when there is criticism like that or negative comments.
“I guess he is playing the old mental game and trying to get in our heads, but I think he should tread carefully.”
Ex-prop Mtawarira not only destroyed the Lions 12 years ago, he then took down England in the 2019 World Cup final.
And there is likely to be plenty of focus on the first scrum at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, even though the feared Beast has now retired and the Boks have rookie Nche, 25, against Ireland tighthead Tadhg Furlong.
The scrum-loving Beast added: “I think it’s going to be a massive battle.
“Because you know, the set piece is key to winning this series and rugby philosophy never changes, especially in Test rugby.
We won the game, so I’m not sure what it is that they dented.
“When you get ascendancy up front, you lay the platform for the team to win.”
The Springboks vowed to settle a simmering war of words on the pitch after a week of verbal grenades from Gatland.
And backs coach Mzwandile Stick laughed: “They have dented our ego?
“The most important stat from that game was the final score.
“We won the game, so I’m not sure what it is that they dented.
“If he is talking about egos, he does not really know much about us as South Africans. Let’s wait and see after the game.”
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The fact that South African Marius Jonker is taking the key role of TV ref, because New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill could not travel due to the pandemic, has caused concern in the Lions camp.
Scrum coach Robin McBryde said: “It was a bit unexpected.
“There’s a slight lack of foresight because there’s a reason why that position is neutral.”
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