ARTHUR Mate, the UK-based lock forward, arrives in the county next Friday to join the Zimbabwe rugby team camp ahead of the crucial 2011 World Cup opening qualifier against Namibia in Windhoek on August 2.
Mate, who turns out for South One League side Atrincham Kersal, last played for the Sables in 2003 when he was still based in South Africa. The giant lock from Bulawayo was voted player-of-the-season in the now defunct Zimbabwe national league in 2001 following an outstanding season with Bulawayo high-density outfit Western Panthers, who came agonisingly close to clinching the league title at the expense of dominant club Old Hararians.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union is hoping to bring another England-based player, scrumhalf Matt Reid.
But the Sables technical department is more concerned with putting together a hard forwards pack, especially in the tight fives that will withstand the pressure of the heavy-weight Namibians.
Coach Brendan Dawson and his staff are apparently content with their loose forward resources in the form of locally and South Africa-based players such as Jacques Leitao, Norman Mukondiwa, Shaun Saywoood and Prayer Chitenderu. But with Germany-based flanker Costa Dinha already in the country on holiday, the temptation to include his experience may be too great to ignore. Another Germany-based loosie, Jeff Tigere has returned to Germany after spending a month back home on vacation. He played for the Goshawks at the Lusaka Castle Sevens in Zambia and told selectors he was available if the union flew him.
Sables coach Brendan Dawson meanwhile spent the whole of this week studying the training techniques of Sharks in Durban.
The Sables will however miss the defence expertise of Sevens coach Liam Middleton, who has returned to the UK to take up a new job as Worcester Warriors Academy coach and talent-identifier for the Rugby Football Union.
The Sables will welcome back regular captain Cleopas Makotose and Tangai Nemadire, who missed the friendly in Zambia in May. The Cape Town-based players are reportedly in good form in the Western Province league.
By Enock Muchinjo