Steven Kitshoff has spent a long time sharing the Springbok loosehead duties with the great Tendai Mtawarira, but now that the ‘Beast’ has retired, the Stormers powerhouse will be the undisputed wearer of South Africa’s No 1 jersey in the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Kitshoff, however, says being in the hot seat is not going to change his approach to Test rugby.
Mtawarira is the most capped Springbok prop ever with 117 appearances stretching from 2008 to the triumphant 2019 World Cup final.
Kitshoff made his Test debut in 2016 and has amassed 47 caps, but only 12 of those have been starts.
“Playing with and behind Beast was a massive honour and it was a privilege to learn from him,” Kitshoff said.
“He is one of the great legends of the game, but now that he has retired, I’ll bring a similar approach as before to the game.
“I’ll focus on just doing my job the best I can for the team, and be willing to sacrifice for the team. My preparation will be the same.”
The absence of Mtawarira robs the Springboks of one of their main leaders and has been exacerbated by the probable loss of Duane Vermeulen to an ankle injury.
And while inspirational skipper Siya Kolisi will still very much have his hands on the tiller, Kitshoff says it will be all hands on deck in terms of the other leaders in the team stepping up.
“Duane plays a massive role in the side. I have no idea how long his rehab is going to take and I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery. He will definitely be missed,” Kitshoff said.
“But we have a great group of players and leaders who are ready to step up and sacrifice anything for the jersey. There are still unbelievable leaders in the group and there are key guys running certain positions.
“That makes the game so much easier because it helps you control certain situations. As senior players now we must just step up and make sure we bring our side of the deal.”