REJUVINATED Sables have made two backline changes for tomorrow’s Africa Cup tie against Kenya at Hartsfield Stadium in Bulawayo.
The fit-again utility back Lenience Tambwera replaces fellow ex-Churchill School star Teddy Hwata at fullback.
Hwata had a below-par game in the 31-26 defeat to African powerhouse Namibia in Windhoek last week.
Despite a much-improved performance against their long-time rivals, the Sables again capitulated in the second half, having led 20-7 at half time.
In the other change, Gavin Nyawata returns to inside centre in place of Ngoni Chibuwe, who is relegated to the substitute bench.
Meanwhile, coach Cyprian Mandenge’s decision to select Tambwera at fullback instead of flyhalf is another show of faith in veteran number 10 Tichafara Makwanya, who courted some criticism for his performance in the Namibia game, mainly at decision-making time. There were calls for Tambwera to replace the experienced Old Hararians skipper at flyhalf, but the Sables’ woes at fullback last week meant there was a vacancy there without having to drop Makwanya.
Mandenge said Tambwera’s booming boot, alongside Makwanya’s own kicking ability, gives the Sables depth in that area. “We want to clear our lines and find touch,” Mandenge said.
“We need to play in the right areas. Those two, LT (Tambwera) and Tich, will give us options in kicking.”
In the forwards, Zimbabwe’s loose trio is again expected to play a key role by dominating at the breakdown and establish fluidity against the Kenyans, who beat a crisis-ridden Sables in Harare last year. Veteran flank Jacques Leitao was colossal against Namibia on his return to the green-and-white, giving the team physical presence and the go-forward at open-side. The young blind-sider Connor Pritchard, playing in only his second Test, was a menace on the deck in Windhoek and should continue to grow as an international player.
Eighthman Njabulo Ndlovu was a strong ball-carrier and gave the Sables momentum for most of the Test.
Mandenge, however, has not finalised his match 22, only naming his starting line-up for tomorrow’s clash.
Congolese-born flank Biselele Tshamala should make it on the bench following his recall, as cover for both the loose trio and second row. Tshamala returns alongside his Hwange hometown colleague, hooker Royal Mwale, who is also among the replacements.
Uncapped Matabeleland Warriors prop Edwin Nxumalo is in the training squad and could make his debut off the bench if he makes the 22.
15. Lenience Tambwera 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 13. Daniel Capsopolous 12. Gavin Nyawata 11. Stephan Hunduza 10. Tichafara Makwanya 9. Hilton Mudariki 8. Njabulo Ndlovu 7. Jacques Leitao 6. Connor Pritchard 5. Brian Nyaude 4. Fortune Chipendo 3. Lawrence Cleminson 2. Tolerance Zishe 1. Denford Mutamangira (captain).
Replacements: Royal Mwale, Edwin Nxumalo, David Makanda, Irvine Nduwa, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Osborne Muhambi, Andy Rose, Biselele Tshamala, Ngoni Chibuwe, Teddy Hwata.