The 28-year-old Mbonambi, who made his international debut against Ireland in 2016 and has played in 28 Tests to date, was especially aware of the looming forward battle when the Boks face the Pumas in the third and final round of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship this weekend.
While the Pumas have a reputation as a very strong scrummaging team, Mbonambi said their entire pack will pose a challenge, with the Pumas’ experienced hooker, Agustin Creevy, a big threat as ball poacher and carrier who doesn’t shy away from the hard work.
“The Argentineans have basically been together as a team for the entire Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, and now for a few weeks of international rugby,” said the Bethlehem-born hooker, who has racked up 78 Vodacom Super Rugby appearances for the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers since 2012.
“But we know the Test will be more than just a scrum battle. They have very good locks and looseforwards and at hooker they have Agustin Creevy.
“We are preparing for a massive battle upfront, but we are also looking forward to the challenge.”
The Boks are also acutely aware of their recent record in Argentina. Since the Pumas joined the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in 2012, the South Africans have struggled in South America.
Apart from a draw in 2012, the Pumas won their encounters in 2016 in Salta and last year in Mendoza. In 2014, the Boks scraped through in Salta, which was also the venue for their most impressive performance in many years in Argentina, when they won 41-23 in 2017.
“We know what a big challenge it is to play the Pumas here in Argentina,” said Mbonambi.
“They always get great support, never mind where they play in Argentina, and it’s never easy here – they will have their tails up on Saturday.
“We have been to Salta a few times before and we know we can prepare ourselves to play in front of a very passionate and hostile crowd on Saturday. Rugby is growing as a great sport here in Argentina and we are really looking forward to the Test.”