WITH the prospect of playing at the 2015 Rugby World Cup looking brighter than ever, the Sables have received a boost with more players showing interest in playing for the national 15s side.
But this positive development has the potential to tear the squad apart as the threat of national team regulars losing their places increases.
There have been murmurs of discontent over the inclusion of new faces that include Golden Lions of South Africa fly half Guy Cronje, Andrew Ross and Cambridge Rugby lock Martin Wolfenden, but coach Brendan Dawson told IndependentSport they would welcome any new players who want to play for Zimbabwe as long as they can come in and prove their worth.
Guy Cronje’s twin brother Ross has also expressed interest in playing for the Sables but is committed in the Currie Cup this weekend.
If Zimbabwe qualifies as African champions, it will be placed in Pool C together with holders New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and a yet to be determined European qualifier.
“If we are going to qualify for the World Cup, we are going to play New Zealand in the first game,” said Dawson. “So we are looking to get stronger with each game and happy more players are raising their hands to say they want to play for Zimbabwe.
“This is something we expected with the prospect of qualifying for the World Cup looking brighter. We have got a few new players coming in. We will have a look at them at training and take a bit of a gamble with them. We have contacted their coaches and are getting high recommendations. I am happy it is the first time we have had a lot of players and we can only get better.”
Zimbabwe only needs to maintain its place in Africa Cup Group 1A this year to be involved in next year’s qualifiers which the country could host.
The Sables are the holders of the Africa Cup. Their preparations for this year’s Africa Cup have been hindered by lack of funds and other commitments on the part of the players and a late training boycott by senior players, skipper Costa Dinha, Cleophas Makotose and fly half Tichafara Makwanya.
However, Dawson remains optimistic they can still make the best out of the situation now that training is in full swing.
“The preparations have been going alright but obviously with the Sevens’ players out, it has put a bit of spanners in the works. We have not had a full complement of players as the South African-based players couldn’t arrive on time. It has been a bit disjointed but I am fairly happy,” Dawson said.
He said their title defence will be tough as other teams had improved.
“It’s going to be tough in Madagascar. The hosts are not that big but they are very quick and attack from anywhere on the field so we have to defend with the correct pattern. Both Uganda and Kenya have big and strong men and they have had new players coming in. They also had part of their preparations in South Africa, so they are well-prepared and it’s going to be tough.”
Forwards; Pieter Joubert, Jakov Jakov, Zvikomborero Murangari, Tapiwa Mangezi, Simba Bwanya, Simba Mandiona, Keith Murray, Jan Ferreira, Martin Wolfenden, Sanele Sibanda, Fortune Chipendu, Andrew Rose, Biselele Tshamala, Jarques Leitao, Lucky Sithole and Njabulo Ndlovu.
Backs; Philemon Machisa, Hilton Mudariki, Kilvan Magunje, Boyd Rous, Lenience Tambwera, Guy Cronje, Tichafara Makwanya, Garth Ziegler, Cleopas Makotose, Shayne Makombe, Gavin Nyawata, Gardner Nechironga, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Stephan Hunduza, Kuda Chiwanza, Lungile Tshuma, Mike Morris, Craig Elcombe and Tangai Nemadire.