EXCLUSIVE: Bongi is right leader to lead a pack of dogs

rugby02 April 2024 13:20
By:Gavin Rich
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Bongi Mbonambi © Getty Images

“If you need a leader to lead a bunch of dogs, want a guy to lead a bunch of dogs, then he is the guy. He is the main dog.”

If you hadn’t already picked up that Bongi Mbonambi is the man who sets the tone for the Springboks when the going gets tough and physical, then World Cup winning coach Jacques Nienaber’s words should convince you.

Described as “Mike Tyson'' by the Boks’ other hooker, Malcolm Marx, Mbonambi is as much the enforcer in the team as many believe Eben Etzebeth is. He’s also grown into a fine and influential captain when called upon too.

Mbonambi was first chosen to captain the Boks in the away warmup match against Argentina last year and according to loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, who showed in his final years with the Stormers that he himself is a fine leader, he just went from strength to strength after that.

“From then on what he said to the team just became so powerful,” said Kitshoff.

Both Kitshoff and tighthead Frans Malherbe were teammates of Mbonambi in his year’s at the Stormers and Malherbe backs up Kitshoff’s high regard for Mbonambi’s leadership abilities.

“It was awesome to see how he grew into a leadership role in the team and how he took on that responsibility,” said Malherbe, who would himself have captained Mbonambi at the Stormers.

Watch the influential people around Mbonambi talk about his leadership skills and what he brings as both a player and a presence.