Sharks and Springbok teammate Lukhanyo Am says mental strength is one of the qualities that makes Makazole Mapimpi such a special player.
In a snippet from the upcoming SA Rugby magazine, senior contributor Simnikiwe Xabanisa chats to those closest to Mapimpi to find out more about the qualities that set him apart.
The journey of the 29-year-old World Cup winner is one of the great success stories in South African rugby, with Mapimpi rising from humble beginnings to now one of world rugby’s most highly regarded players.
To find out more about just how the experienced wing rose to the top of his game, the likes of Jacques Nienaber, Aled Walters, David Williams, Mzwandile Stick and Am all chatted to SA Rugby magazine to provide some of their insights.
‘There are a lot of factors which make Pimps a great player, but if I had to point to one it would have to be his preparation,’ stated Am, who is also Mapimpi’s roommate and close friend.
‘In the buildup to a game his preparation is spot on. He works really hard at it and he also works hard on the recovery side to be in the best condition he can be on Saturday. He’s self-motivated, analyses his games and pushes himself to be consistent all the time.’
Mapimpi hails from the Eastern Cape and started out his career at the Border Bulldogs, with Am highlighting this influence in his progression as a player.
‘Obviously his life experiences and his upbringing are factors in his motivation. He’s learned from his previous experiences. He knows where he comes from and I think that’s one of the things that motivates him. From a mental toughness perspective I’ve never seen anything wipe him out. He always sees the positive side in situations and things. Being a hard worker, he takes the best out of things and works his way back.
‘As rugby players we play through the pain barrier, but some players pull out when something’s not right and others push through the pain and still perform consistently. Makazole is one of those guys and that proves how mentally strong he is.’
*This full feature will appear in the next issue of SA Rugby magazine