BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE coach Brendan Dawson has named two players from the Under-20 Barthes Trophy-winning squad in his starting line-up for the Goshawks’ Currie Cup First Division match against Boland Cavaliers in Cape Town tomorrow.
Exciting utility back Tavonga Ablant, who rose from humble beginnings at Mbare Academy to first earn a scholarship to Hillcrest College before being snapped up by Maritzburg College in Durban, has enjoyed a phenomenal rise over the last few months.
He was one of the stars of the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team which beat Namibia in the final of the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy in Namibia last month, earning himself the Player of the Tournament accolade.
Ablant will earn his first start at right-wing, where his devastating pace and sublime finishing skills could be pivotal for the Zimbabwean side playing in the Currie Cup First Division as Goshawks.
There is also a place in the starting line-up for the explosive Young Sables fullback Brendon Marume, who has been elevated to the starting 15 after featuring amongst the replacements during the Goshawks’ 22-21 victory against Kenya two weeks ago.
His inclusion at fullback means Kyle Galloway has been moved to scrumhalf while skipper Hilton Mudariki will start amongst the replacements.
Young Sables skipper Takudzwa Musingwini, who starred for the Zimbabwe Under-20 side at flyhalf has also been named amongst the replacements in a clear sign of faith in youth by the Goshawks’ technical department.
Despite the promotion of the Young Sables trio, the Goshawks squad still has a nice blend of youthful and experienced players.
Zimbabwe have made six starting line-up and three positional changes for the match against Boland Cavaliers
Losing their starting spots from last week — relegated to the bench or taken out of the match-day 23 altogether — are hooker Matthew Mandioma, lock Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, flank Biselele Tshamala, captain Hilton Mudariki, flyhalf Riaan O’Neil and wing Russell Dinha. Nyakufaringwa, who had established an exciting second-row combination with Andrew, suffered significant knee ligament damage and is facing a lengthy spell out of the game
Johan Du Preez, who started at flank against Kenya has been, will now move to lock with University of Johannesburg captain Kelvin Kanenungo earning his first start for Zimbabwe at blindside flank.
Upfront hooker Declan Ralphs will be hoping to make a good impression after replacing Mandioma at hooker.
There’s also a place amongst the replacements for Hong Kong-based Zimbabwe rugby star Nyasha Tarusenga, who is set to make his first start for Zimbabwe at the senior level.
Tarusenga, twice a winner of the World University Rugby Cup with the University of Cape Town, is an explosive eighth man who makes a big impact on attack and defence and is a valuable addition to the Zimbabwe squad.
- Victor Mupunga, 2. Declan Ralphs, 3. Bornwell Gwinji Bornwell, 4. Johan Du Preez, 5. Andrew Evans, 6. Kelvin Kanenungo 7. Tonderai Chiwambutsa, 8. Aiden Burnett, 9. Kyle Galloway, 10. Boyd Rouse, 11. Ernest Mudzengerere, 12, Takudzwa Chieza, 13. Marcus Nel, 14. Tavonga Ablant, 15. Brendon Marume.
Replacements: 16. Matthew Mandioma, 17. Doug Juszczyk, 18. Gabriel Sipapate, 19. Sean Beevor, 20. Nyasha Tarusenga, 21. Hilton Mudariki, 22. Takudzwa Musingwini, 23. Russell Dinha.