WHILE Zimbabwe hosts Zambia in a friendly test match in Harare tomorrow â€” an inconspicuous affair in the world of rugby â€” two players who if circumstances were different would have been involved in that match will in fact be featuring for their more illustrious adopted countries.
Whereas the hugely popular prop Tendai â€œBeastâ€ Mtawarira is already a South African cult hero after only 15 Test caps for the world champions, his fellow Zimbabwean expatriate David Pocock will only be starting for the first time in Australian colours when they take on the Springboks tomorrow in a Tri-Nation match in Brisbane.
The Springboks overcame the Wallabies 32-25 in the first match of their tour down under last week.
Gweru-born Pocock, now 21, left Zimbabwe in 2002 after his familyâ€™s farm in the Midlands was invaded by veterans of Zimbabweâ€™s war of liberation. He made his Wallabies debuted from the bench in Hong Kong in 2008, and then played against Italy and then the Barbarians on the Wallabies spring tour.Â Â
The Boks match tomorrow is the Western Force and former Australia Under 21 starâ€™s first real chance to impress on the big stage.
â€œIt was a big day for Zimbabwean refugee David Pocock on Tuesday,â€ reported South African sports news agency MWP this week. â€œNot only did the 21-year-old receive his call-up to start for the first time for the Wallabies against the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday, but he also met one of his boyhood heroes.â€
Pocockâ€™s hero is former South Africa captain Bob Skinstad, himself a native of Zimbabwe, born in Bulawayo. Skinstad is in Australia as part of SuperSportâ€™s television team.
Skinstad is renowned for his modesty and good nature, and he couldnâ€™t hold back an embarrassed chuckle when Pocock said: â€œI was always a big fan of Bobby Skinstad when I was growing up in Zim, watching South African rugby on the telly.â€