ONE of South Africa’s most popular rugby stars, Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, has been sent home from Edinburgh and ruled out of Saturday’s EMC Autumn Test match due to a heart problem.
The Zimbabwe-born 27-year-old has been taken to the Bokke’s heart with his rampaging style of play and ‘Beast’ has become an anthemic roar throughout matches when he gets the ball in Sharks and South Africa matches.
Murrayfield first heard the roar, with Scottish supporters even joining in, when he made his first appearance against the Scots in 2010 and it proved to be a disappointing one for Mtawarira, as the hosts won 21-17.
Like many of that squad who have returned this week, the 19-stone powerhouse was eager for revenge, but after being withdrawn from the Test match with Ireland in Dublin on Saturday due to an irregular heartbeat, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer insisted that they decided he should fly home last night.
Meyer said: “He is one of our key players and a leader, and is mentally tough, but although he could have played this weekend we felt it was best for him to get it sorted out.
“There is always the risk that it could happen again the night before the game or in training, and suddenly we’re back to square one.
“It is something that worries Beast and so it will always be in the back of his mind, and you want guys out there that are totally focused. So it’s best for him to go home and be with his family.”
The Springboks doctor, Craig Roberts, explained: “He has atrial fibrillation, which he has had at times in the past. We took him to hospital [on Friday night] to correct the rhythm in his heart. It’s not life-threatening in any way, nor career-threatening; he’s able to play with it.
“But we had a meeting with ‘Beast’ today and have made the decision to send him home.
“He will go to Cape Town and have a minor procedure done where they try and isolate the little nerve cells that are causing the irregular beat and eradicate them, and hopefully cure it forever.”
Meyer pointed out that there is a six-week recovery period associated with the operation and so, by returning home now, Mtawarira is more likely to be fit for the start of the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Underlining the difference in relative strength between the two nations, while Scotland are delighted to have a second tighthead in Euan Murray available this week, and are keeping fingers crossed Geoff Cross and Ryan Grant shrug off knocks from Sunday, South Africa have had to leave several front rows at home injured – they are also missing leading figures, Bryan Habana, Frans Steyn, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow – and Jannie Du Plessis injured his ankle in Saturday’s 16-12 win over Ireland, yet still have CJ van der Linde, Gurthro Steenkamp, currently at Toulouse, and Stormers 21-year-old Frans Malherbe to call on this week.