Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira has recalled how he was considering a move to French club Racing 92 after the 2017 international season.
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The Boks had suffered two difficult years under coach Allister Coetzee, who eventually parted ways with the national side, in 2016 and 2017 and it was at that point where Mtawarira was considering his future.
In an interview posted on the official British & Irish Lions website, however, Mtawarira revealed how the arrival of Rassie Erasmus convinced him to stay in South Africa.
After another two seasons with the Sharks, Mtawarira went on to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan and finished his Test career with 117 caps.
"Thank God we brought Rassie Erasmus back," he said.
"We had a very frank conversation and he said I was a big part of his plans and convinced me to stay. I had a decision to make and thought about why I still play rugby and the answer was to win the World Cup. It’s funny how things work out.
"I had been there in successful teams and then it was all looking down, so I was close to calling it a day."
Mtawarira, who played in the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, went on to praise Erasmus' approach to coaching.
"Rassie is very motivational. He is not the loudest guy in the room or gives Any Given Sunday speeches but he does just say it as it is," Mtawarira said.
"He treats you like an adult and he used to be a player. He told us he used to make a lot of mistakes as a player – although I watched him and he was bloody good – but his Springbok career was cut short because of injuries, so he used to say he didn’t want us to end up like him."
The Lions are due to tour South Africa for three Tests in 2021.
- Compiled by Sport24 staff