CAPTAIN Brandon Mandivenga misses tomorrow’s clash with Sharks in Cape Town while Zimbabwe Academy teammate Kudakwashe “Goofy” Nyakufaringwa has been ruled out of the rest of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge after both players picked up injuries in training this week.
Mandivenga—who was outstanding at flyhalf for the Zimbabwean side in the 41-16 opening defeat to Border Bulldogs in East London last weekend—sustained an ankle injury.
The 24-year-old talented utility back is expected to be fit for next week’s tie against SWD Eagles.
For Nyakufaringwa—one of the finds of Zimbabwean rugby in last year’s failed World Cup bid—it is unfortunately the end of the road in this tournament for the tall lock forward. The 25-year-old will now sit out the whole tournament with a fractured hand.
Meanwhile, the experienced Jan Ferreira, who partnered Bulawayo colleague Nyakufaringwa in the second row against Border last weekend before limping off with an injury, will captain the Zimbabweans in the absence of Mandivenga.
This has opened the door for emerging lock Godwin Mangenje to play alongside the 32-year-old Ferreira tomorrow.
Young Jerry Jaravaza— who is equally comfortable at scrumhalf—will fill Mandivenga’s big shoes in the number 10 shirt against the Durban side.
A third injury for the Zimbabweans going into the Sharks examination is prop Wade Petzer, who has been replaced in the starting line-up by young loose-head Tyran Fagan.
It total, Zimbabwe Academy takes to the park tomorrow in the Mother City with five changes from the side that lost to Border Bulldogs.
Coach Brendan Dawson has made two adjustments in the loose trio with Blithe Mavesere, replacing Jordan Coombes at blind-side flank and seasoned campaigner Njabulo Ndlovu breaking into the starting XV at eighthman at the expense of Aiden Burnett.
Both Coombes and Burnett do not even make the match-day squad for Zimbabwe.
“It’s squad rotation,” explained team manager Jason Maritz, the former Zimbabwe Under-20 star. “It’s a long tournament and we need to understand what each player can give us.”
In the backline, apart from the forced change of Mandivenga, the rest of the department remains unchanged.
Injuries aside, a boost for the Zimbabweans is the arrival in South Africa this week of gifted England-based scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki, one of the more senior members of the squad.
Mudariki, however, starts on the bench.
Zimbabwe Academy are technically the home side in tomorrow’s match against Sharks. The Zimbabweans are based at Cape Town’s False Bay Rugby Club for the entire length of their maiden SuperSport Challenge season and will play all their “home” games there.
Kick-off is 4pm and the match will be broadcast live on SuperSport 10 SA.
ZIM STARTING LINE-UP
15. Kuda Chiwanza 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 13. Shingi Katsvere 12. Riaan O’Neill 11. Matthew McNab 10. Jerry Jaravaza 9. Kuziwa Kazembe 8. Njabulo Ndlovu 7. Brian Nyaude 6. Blithe Mavesere 5. Godwin Mangenje 4. Jan Ferreira (captain), 3. Cleopas Kundiona 2. Royal Mwale 1. Tyran Fagan.
Subs: 16. Neil Mawere 17. Wes Futter 18. George Saungweme 19. Godfrey Muzanarwo 20. Biselele Tshamala 21. Hilton Mudariki 22. Takudzwa Chieza