THE Zimbabwe Goshawks will be hoping for a positive start to their Carling Currie Cup campaign when they face off against the Black Lions outfit from Georgia at Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town on Saturday.
The match kicks off at 2pm.
The Zimbabwe select side, which is made up of a blend of experienced players and youthful players, will be eager to show there are no push overs despite the absence of some of the high-profile players due to contractual obligations with their clubs.
Head coach Brendan Dawson yesterday named a number of uncapped players in his match day squad as he seeks to come up with the right combinations ahead of the Rugby World Cup qualifiers to be played in France in July.
Among the new faces in the squad is the former Sharks lock Andrew Evans, who will partner Kudakwashe Nyakufarigwa in the second row.
Poland-based Nyakufaringwa will make his first appearance in national colours after a four-year absence.
Another new inclusion is fly half Boyd Rouse, who will make a return in the fifteens format having mostly played for the national sevens rugby team, the Cheetahs over the last few years.
Rouse’s halfback combination with former Cheetahs’ teammate, scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki will be crucial as the Goshawks will look to outrun and outsmart their physical opponents with their speedy backs.
Notable new call-ups in the backline are fullback Connor Kennedy and winger Munashe Chaitezi and centre Russell Dinha.
Kennedy has previously played international Sevens rugby for the United Arab Emirates, where he lives and plays for Dubai Exiles while Dinha is the nephew of former Sables captain Costa Dinha.
Gifted with raw pace and skill, young Dinha himself an ex-national Under-20 skipper will back himself up to force his way into the team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
The Goshawks kicked off their training camp in Cape Town on March 21 and stepped up their preparations for the Currie Cup First Division by getting the better of Boland in a preparatory match played in Wellington, Western Cape on Saturday.
During the warm-up game against Boland, the Goshawks scored six tries while their opponents crossed the whitewash four times.
The Zimbabwe Goshawks are one of the three international representatives in this year’s Carling Currie Cup First Division together with the Black Lion outfit from Georgia and Kenyan representative the Simbas.
The trio of international participants will join the defending champions, the Leopards, Griffons, South Western Districts, Boland, Eastern Province, Border and the Valke over a single round of action, with the final scheduled for the final weekend of June.
Goshawks matchday squad.
Starting XV: 1 Victor Mupunga, 2. Matthew Mandioma, 3. Bornwell Gwinji, 4. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, 5. Andrew Evans, 6. Biselele Tshamala, 7. Tonderai Chiwambutsa, 8. Aiden Burnett, 9. Hilton Mudariki, 10. Boyd Rouse, 11. Munashe Chaitezwi, 12. Takudzwa Chieza, 13. Russell Dinha, 14. Darrel Makwasha, 15. Connor Kennedy
Replacement: 16. Aaron Juma, 17. Deanne Makoni, 18. Panashe Rukodzi, 19. Godwin Mangenje, 20. Dylan Utete, 21. Ernest Mudzengerere, 22. Brendon Marume, 23. Tawanda Matipano.