The New England Free Jacks have added experienced and powerful loose forward Lubabalo (‘Tera’) Mtembu to the playing roster for the 2021 season in Major League Rugby.
Mtembu will join the Free Jacks on a three-year contract from the Sharks Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams, where he captained the Super Rugby side in 2016 and 2017 and led the Currie Cup Campaigns in 2014 and 2019.
“I am grateful to the Free Jacks for giving me this awesome opportunity to join an exciting program and growing community,” commented the 6’2”, 245 lb Mtembu. “I am looking forward to the challenge, to learn new things, add value where I can and most importantly, earn my teammates’ and the fans’ trust and respect.”
The move to the Free Jacks will be Mtembu’s first professional team change since joining the Sharks out of High School. At 29, Mtembu has amassed 47 Super Rugby appearances and 45 Currie Cup caps.
✍️⚠️ Free Jacks Sign Lubabalo Mtembu, Super Rugby’s Sharks Former Captain
'Tera' will join the Free Jacks on a three year contract. Welcome to New England 🐎🔥
Read more at https://t.co/nKkIAk9oKc#FreeJacks2021 #LetsRide #TogetherWeRide pic.twitter.com/iQMYaOY2dY
— New England Free Jacks (@NEFreeJacks) July 30, 2020
Mtembu also appeared for the 2010 South African U20 team, representing his home nation in all four test matches. Mtembu went on to play for the South African National Sevens side in 2010 and 2011 before making the move to the 15-a-side code with the Sharks.
“A proven leader and key contributor at Super Rugby level, Tera will not only be a tremendous asset on the field, but will display what it means to be a Free Jack and role model through his daily behaviors,” said Tom Kindley, Free Jacks Performance Manager. “With the ability to play across the back row, jump in the lineout and create havoc off the back of the scrum, Tera is a versatile, top quality player that we are thrilled to welcome to New England. We are thankful to the Sharks for one of their finest sons and are excited to see Tera impart his knowledge and leadership to players and staff within the organization and Junior Jacks academy development squads.”
Tera joins a robust group of New England loose forwards and his impressive on-field performance at the Sharks will make him an immediate and demonstrable force in the high-flying Major League Rugby competition. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Tera averaged a 95% tackle success rate. Strong carries and effective breakdown skills make Tera an excellent addition to an exciting, try-centric New England team full of power and pace.
In addition to his on-field commitments, Tera is passionate about helping develop rugby in New England. As his charity of choice, Tera will support the nascent Free Jacks Foundation in its mission to make a difference in the next generation of New England rugby players and instill the values familiar to the game. Tera will assist in the academy programs and work with players and coaches alike to grow the game of rugby in the region.