FORMER South Africa Under-20 lock Jannie Stander will join a Zimbabwe Presidents XV in Pretoria on Sunday for two warm-up matches in preparation for the Sables’ 2019 World Cup qualification mission which begins against Morocco in Harare on June 16.
The 25-year-old Pumas enforcer — who turned out for the Baby Boks at the 2013 Junior World Championship in France — is new to the rugby set-up of Zimbabwe and joins older brother Johan, who played for a Zimbabwean invitational side against the Blue Bulls in Harare in April.
The two brothers, like several other professional players still being courted by Zimbabwe, qualify for the Southern African country through ancestry.
The older of the two, Johan Stander, is a flank who can also play at lock, while the young brother is a specialist second-rower so highly-rated in South African domestic rugby and could prove a big coup for Zimbabwe, who are looking to bulk up the forwards pack ahead of their most important year in a long time.
The 32-man touring squad is a mixture of both locally and foreign-based players, as well as both rookie players and those with sizeable international caps under their belts.
Gifted 23-year-old tight-head Farai Mudariki, who is on the books of French Top 14 side Castres Olympique, is re-establishing himself as a potentially important player for Zimbabwe and seems to be enjoying time now under new coach Peter de Villiers.
Another noteworthy inclusion in the forwards is South African-born flank Mike Botha, who will offer the Sables technical staff a second look in Pretoria, having played and impressed against Blue Bulls last month.
The experienced Fortune Chipendu and Njabulo Ndlovu will help captain Denford Mutamangira with directing operations on the park upfront.
Meanwhile, the biggest casualty in the squad is the explosive left wing Stephan Hunduza.
Not so long ago considered the hottest property in Zimbabwean rugby, Hunduza does not seem to fit in the philosophy of coach de Villiers, who prefers to have a back three of attacking flair, with a big number 11 and lightning quick 14.
This was evident last weekend when the former Springbok boss tried out the much bigger Matthew McNab on the left wing in a warm-up match against a Possibles XV at Harare Sports Club.
Alongside McNab, other players being assessed for that position are the solidly-built and mobile Ziyanda Khupe as well as the England-based Dylan Baptista — who will all be in Pretoria.
The Zimbabwean team will play the Blue Bulls’ select side on Tuesday before taking on a Bulls combined side of Under-21 and SuperSport Rugby Challenge Cup players on Friday.
Forwards: Denford Mutamangira (captain), Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, David Makanda, Connor Pritchard, Brian Nyaude, Farai Mudariki, Matthew Mandioma, Gabriel Spapate, Fortune Chipendu, Kudakwashe Nyamufaringa, Jannie Stander, Johan Stander, Biselele Tshamala, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Kevin Nqindi, Njabulo Ndlovu, Lawrence Cleminson, Michael Botha.
Backs: Shingi Katsvere, Kudzai Mashawi, Brendon Mandivenga, Matthew McNab, Lenience Tambwera, Hilton Mudariki, Peter du Toit, Ernest Mudzengerere, Ngoni Chibuwe, Dylan Baptista, Ziyanda Khupe, Riaan O’Neill, Kuziva Kazembe, Takudzwa Kumadiro.