South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi is said to have performed perfectly in training despite an ongoing investigation regarding an alleged racial slur made during the Rugby World Cup semi-final.
Mbonambi was accused during the game of using racialised language against England flanker Tom Curry, who brought his concerns to referee Ben O’Keeffe.
The comments were picked up by O’Keeffe’s ref mic and now World Rugby are probing what exactly went on. The drama has been the talk of Rugby World Cup final week and the Boks faced questions on the issue at a press conference today.
“It’s being dealt with by World Rugby and South Africa Rugby at the moment. From our side I really can’t comment on something like that,” said Springboks assistant coach Daan Human.
Human did reveal that the hooker is dealing pretty well with things despite being at the centre of the storm.
“He had a perfect training this afternoon, well not perfect but we strive to have a perfect training. I can’t really comment on that.
“Bongi has been part of this group for the last six years. He is a very important piece of our puzzle, he is definitely very important to us like all the other players.”
“He is definitely one of our leaders in the group as well, a great guy. A great family man and I know his kids always look after my kids when they come to the hotel. He is a very humble guy, down to earth and a very hard worker like all the other players, which they should be if they want to play for the Springboks.”
Human downplayed the idea that the Sharks forward was shocked by the accusation that have been levelled against him.
“I haven’t discussed that [with him]. But to be straightforward and honest with you, he is a calm guy. He is well spoken and I don’t want to actually go into it because we have a World Cup final in six days’ time. Like I said I am more concentrated on the forwards.”
Human also insists that the team are well stocked at No.2, despite Mbonambi being the only specialist hooker left in the squad following the withdrawal of Malcolm Marx due to injury back in September.
“I can tell you one thing, we have three hookers [including Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden] in the group. Three guys who are capable of playing hooker so we are very comfortable having three hookers. If you want to go into a final, you must have two hookers.”
Springboks lock Jean Kleyn described his teammate as a ‘great guy’, although he refused to comment directly on the accusations made against him.
“Bongi is a great guy, I have known him since we played together at the Stormers. He is a good individual. I’m not going to comment on it, I’m not going to justify it.”
“Passionate guy, a family man. He has captained the Springboks a few times now. He is an upstanding guy, I don’t think there’s a fella in the squad who doesn’t like him.”