THE Sables will invade Russia for a six-day training camp ahead of their England 2015 Rugby World Cup finals one-match playoff against the hosts.
The Zimbabwe national 15s side is confident that after the Africa Cup tournament where they failed to clinch an automatic ticket to the finals but secured a second chance through the repecharge (play-off), are in good shape to upstage Russia and proceed to the last part of the process where they will meet either Uruguay or Hong Kong.
The Sables lost out to Namibia on points difference after they finished on the same number of points together with Kenya.
Zimbabwe beat Kenya on the final day of the tournament hosted by Madagascar, having beaten their hosts in the first match but losing to Namibia in the second.
Zimbabwe’s experience against Namibia will be useful for the team when they take on Russia whom director of coaching Liam Middleton said are similar to the African champions.
“We are going to have some confidence going out there to play Russia; my general assessment of them is that they are quite similar to Namibia, said Middleton. “We feel we could and should have beaten Namibia so we are sure we can come back with a win.The Russians are very physical and they are set-piece oriented; they will be strong in the drive so we will have to work on that.”
Whilst analysts suggested that had the sables played some matches against strong opposition before last week’s qualifiers they would have made it to the top, the team will not play any friendly matches ahead of the Russia trip for fear of injuries.
“I feel that after playing three highly competitive matches in Madagascar we do not necessarily need any more game time. That might yield injuries and it’s a short period between our last match in Madagascar and the next in Russia.”
After a short break the team returns for training on Monday with the foreign- based players at their bases.
The team will reconvene eight days before their match on August 2 for the Russia training camp which will help them acclimatise.
The technical team has ruled out any additions to the squad that travelled to Namibia.
“The squad that we took to Namibia is probably the strongest possible that we can assemble. When we went to Madagascar we managed to get all the players we required so we will stick with the same group which played well out there.”