ZIMBABWE has continued to spread its net wide in search of quality players as the country bids to assemble a squad strong enough to challenge for a place at the next Rugby World Cup in 2023.
The latest foreign-based stars to have expressed interest in playing for the Sables are Nyasha Tarusenga, Brandon Mudzekenyedzi and Deanne Panashe Makoni.
Former Varsity Cup maestro Tarusenga, twice a winner of the World University Rugby Cup with the University of Cape Town, is an explosive eighthman who makes big impact on attack and defence.
A story on the Varsity Cup website last year showered the 24-year-old Tarusenga with high praise.
“FNB UCT’s eigthman, Nyasha Tarusenga, who just recently earned himself his 50th FNB Varsity Cup cap and the FNB Player That Rocks award, is one of the key players for the Ikey Tigers if they wish to progress further in the tournament,” it reads.
“He has shown his experience at the back of the scrum, in the lineout, as well as at the breakdown. What has been most impressive though is his ability to use his stature and speed to seamlessly pierce through the defence, and his home crowd can bear testament to that. Nyasha seems to have all the qualities to be set for a long and successful professional career, but he has a tough job ahead in the blue and white jersey. It would be in the Ikeys’ best interests to throw Nyasha the ball more often by coming up with creative new tactics for their set-pieces. Nyasha has shown the danger that he poses to opposition and it is hard to miss him on the field.”
Centre Mudzekenyedzi, 22, left Zimbabwe with his family as a six-year-old and attended the same school as former All Blacks utility star Corey Jane. Last year, he featured in the Mitre 10 Cup, the second-tier competition in New Zealand domestic rugby.
Ex-Zimbabwe Under-20 prop Makoni, a powerfully-built tight-head, is now on the books of Free State Cheetahs in South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s Academy side, meanwhile, will take part in the SuperSport Challenge for a second year running with the country hoping to use some of the players on the wish list in South Africa’s number two rugby competition as well as in the remodeled Africa Cup this season.
The Academy shares the same technical staff and bulk of the squad with the national team.
“We have managed to grow this database to a position in which we have up to about 80 players that are accessible to us, who have either played for Zimbabwe or have ambition to play for Zimbabwe,” said team manager Jason Maritz.
“These players are playing at the highest level possible level in the respective countries they are. That extends a lot to South Africa, the UK, a couple in Australia and one or two in New Zealand.
This is in preparation of the Academy taking part in the SuperSport Challenge again this year.
We have been monitoring their progress and we have set pre-season stats for them to achieve. Hopefully, this year we will get off the mark and do better than last year, where players didn’t have time to get fit for the tournament. This time most players have been afforded a training programme. This season we have Border and South Western Districts at home, and definitely we have to target those as winnable games as we build up to the Africa Cup.”
Zimbabwe Academy will be based in Cape Town again for the duration of the tournament. — Staff Writer.