VICTORIA Cup champions Zimbabwe have named a largely changed and weakened side for tomorrow’s final game of the four-nation competition away to Kenya in Nakuru.
While the Sables will run onto the park knowing that they have already secured Africa’s only Test championship of the year, there is all to play for between these two African rivals, so the changes in the visitors’ squad are not by design but forced.
Star tight-head prop Cleopas Kundiona, who celebrated his return to the Zimbabwe side last week with a brace of tries in the cup-clinching 41-5 win over Zambia, suffered a heavy concussion in Lusaka.
The highly-rated 20-year-old, who is on the books of Sharks in Durban, will be out for a period of between two to three weeks.
Another blow for the Sables upfront is that loose-head Tyran Fagan will miss a Test for Zimbabwe for the first time this year, having been released to join a new club in Spain.
It means David Makanda returns to the side at tight-head tomorrow while Tatenda Rwenyu makes his run-on debut at loose-head in place of Fagan.
The veteran Keith Murray remains at hooker to complete the front row.
Also flying out for new commitments in Europe, Poland to be precise, is the exciting 20-year-old Martin Mangongo, who will be replaced tomorrow at fullback by Kuda Chiwanza.
Newcomer Sean Beevor makes his full debut at lock to partner Godfrey Muzanargwo, relegating George Saungweme to the bench.
Meanwhile, in quite a fascinating move, the gifted 20-year-old Blithe Mavesere has been switched from the forward pack to the backline — a show of confidence by Sables coach Brendan Dawson in the versatile talents of the Harare Sports Club prodigy.
Mavesere, a regular loose forward, will start at left wing for Zimbabwe tomorrow.
Despite travelling with a rather depleted squad, Zimbabwe are aiming to finish the campaign unbeaten in a bid to improve World Rugby rankings and also to pull further away from Kenya on the two nations’ head-to-head table.
15. Kuda Chiwanza 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 13. Daniel Capsopolous 12. Ngoni Chibuwe 11. Blithe Mavesere 10. Dudlee White-Sharpley 9. Hilton Mudariki (captain) 8. Biselele Tshamala 7. Brian Nyaude 6. Godwin Mangenje 5. Godfrey Muzanargwo 4. Sean Beevor 3. David Makanda 2. Keith Murray 1. Tatenda Rwenyu.
Subs: 16. Bornwell Gwiji 17. Matthew Mandioma 18. Royal Mwale 19. George Saungweme 20. Tonderai Chiwambutsa 21. Rufaro Chikwaira 22. Njabulo Ndlovu 23. Jerry Jaravaza. — Staff Writer.