Cheetahs in Camp

THE serene setting of the Beatrice Rugby Club outside Harare will be the venue for the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team’s intensive three-day camp beginning today.

The former Mashonaland Country Districts club last hosted matches eight years ago.

A 15-man Cheetahs training squad will assemble for the camp. Former Pumas back Gordon Pangeti is not part of the group after he left for England last week to join a new club.

The Cheetahs’ UK-based coach Liam Middleton and players Ryan Manyika and Fortune Chipendo are set to jet in tomorrow.

Talismanic winger Wes Mbanje will arrive from South Africa. The rest of the players, including UK-based star centre Daniel Hondo and utility player Manasah Sita, who recently returned from trials in Germany, are already in the country.

The team will lodge at a nearly Game Park.

“There we will be able to concentrate on rugby away from outside influence,” said manager Bruce Hobson. “It’s a very relaxed setting. Without distraction we are able to do so much work.”

Hobson said besides training the camp will include video analysis and an Anti-Doping presentation by sports medicine expert Nick Munyonga, who is also the Zimbabwe national soccer team doctor.

He expressed satisfaction with the composition of the training squad, particularly the forwards.

“Fortune (Chipendo) has recovered from his injury and is back playing for Cheltenham Rugby Club in England. He weighs 100 kgs now and he’s going to be awesome,” he said.

We’ve got a very good pack. Our front row should be Gardner (Nechironga), Fortune (Chipendo) and Jacques (Leitao). Gardner has been our best player in the last few tournaments … he’s an amazing athlete.

We also have the experience of Slater (Ndlovu) and Grant (Mitchell) there and then there is also Alex Ndangana to consider in the forwards.”

Hobson said of the backline: “We have good runners in the backline. The only problem is the playmaker position where Willis is having problems with his shoulder. We’ve had to use Danny (Hondo) as playmaker and Cleopas (Makotose) at centre.”

BY ENOCK MUCHINJO