Mzamo Majola might be relative newcomer to the Cell C Sharks senior team, but he’s proven beyond a measure of doubt that he has the temperament, ability and desire to feature prominently for the team he’s supported all his life.
He’s featured in seven Vodacom Super Rugby matches for the Cell C Sharks this season, of which four were starting berths with a further three appearances off the bench for a total of nearly five-and-a-half hours of rugby action during the course of this season’s tournament.
What a break-through season for the Westville High old boy.
“It’s been a dream season, absolutely special and if I had been asked at the beginning of the season how I wanted things to turn out, it wouldn’t have even been this; it’s been super, super cool,” he explains as the team ready themselves for a Vodacom Super Rugby quarter-final showdown with the Brumbies in Canberra, Australia this Saturday.
“I was born and bred in Durban and grew up watching The Sharks, so when I was given the opportunity to run out in front of my home crowd it was really special, a highlight of the year for me.”
With a scrum success rate at a healthy 93%, the Cell C Sharks’ set-piece has been performing very well and he’s clearly been playing his part at loosehead prop in the injury-enforced absence of a South African legend, Beast Mtawarira.
“It’s been a really awesome thing,” he admits. “Beast is such a big name in the game and a legend of the sport and for the Cell C Sharks, so it’s been awesome having someone like him around. To be around the squad and now having someone constantly pushing me at training is something you just can’t buy.
“But I must also mention the other front rowers in the team, having conversations with guys like Akker van der Merwe has been a great help, Craig Burden since he came back has been massive for me.
“I’ve been constantly getting good information, helping me to stay positive and telling me to work hard and the opportunities will come.”
The 24 year old is pretty youthful given the fact that props are generally considered to reach their prime in their latter twenties and early thirties. But he’s proven that age is just a number and ‘if he’s good enough, he’s old enough’, he may well prove to be an inspiration to other young props, just as Beast has been for him.
“I don’t want to suggest that I’m an inspiration to others, I still see myself as a kid, but perhaps one day I will look back and hopefully my story has inspired someone. But I don’t want to look ahead, I’m living in the moment, really grateful for the opportunity I have been given and I just want to focus on playing right now.”
The Cell C Sharks have not played the Brumbies this year (the competition format is designed such that each team plays four of the five teams in the Australian and New Zealand Conferences on a rotational basis each year) although that doesn’t change how much respect the team has for the Australian Conference winners.
“Having watched videos of their games, we know their pack is something special to them, they have a really good driving maul, a strong set-piece, the scrum functions very well and they are number one in the competition for scrum penalties, so it’s going to be a huge challenge, but one we’re really up for.”