HAVING asked Bruce Hobson, the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team manager three years ago to explain the merit of one Manasah Sita on a Goshawks rugby squad, the answer sounded a little too superfluous: “The kid’s got potential,” he said.
“He’s fast, very fast. He’s from a modest background and he’s a bit small but you know he’ll get better and better. He was put on this earth to play Sevens rugby.”
Doing a follow-up and watching Sita play for Old Hararians in a Northern Rugby League fixture that year, he immediately justified Hobson’s sentiments.
In an environment where most of the OH players knew each other from rugby-playing schools and junior representative rugby, the Mbare High School-educated Sita did show raw signs and a lack of conviction. But even so, the pace was there, the judgement was superb and so was the defence.
Growing up in Waterfalls, Sita did not know anything about the game until his first year in high school.
He learnt the game from former Zimbabwe flyhalf Victor Zimbawo, who was also identified at Mbare High School.
On leaving school he played for the One Commando and Police Defenders clubs, moving across to giants Old Hararians as an 18-year-old in 2004.
He played for the national second-string Sevens side, the Goshawks, in 2006. He caught the attention of first-team coach Liam Middleton, who called him up for the IRB Dubai Sevens Series later in the year.
Earlier in the year, he had made his Test rugby debut for the Sables against Madagascar in Bulawayo, coming off the bench on the right wing.
But disciplinary problems would get in the way of his promising career just when he appeared destined for bigger things.
He was suspended from the national Sevens side, the Cheetahs, for a year, dejectedly retreating to his cell-phone repairing job in central Harare.
“I was young and a bit naÃ¯ve,” he says.
“But I learnt a big lesson. It helped me to mend my ways. I became a better person and player.”
He picked himself up, smarted, and corrected his image. More importantly, he put on hours in the gym working on his body shape.
Sita needed a new start to revive his career. At the beginning of the year he made a very tough decision, leaving OH to join rivals Districts Dragons.
“There were few issues with the guys at OH,” he says.
“I felt I needed a move. But I have no beef with OH, there are good people there and we are still friends.”
Districts was a surprise move for the Waterfalls boy who grew up playing soccer. But the move tamed him.
He fitted easily at Old Georgians Sports Club, and coach John Falkenberg, who is good with young players, took him under his wings. His confidence came back and he began enjoying his game again. Falkenberg was also instrumental in having his Sevens suspension lifted.
Sita toured Morocco and Kenya for the Tangiers and Tusker Sevens tournaments respectively this year.
From there, he turned on a blinder for the Sables in the international friendly win over Zambia in the Copperbelt.
He was back in Zambia a few weeks later, helping the Cheetahs retain the Castle Lager Lusaka Sevens in Lusaka.
He had been converted to a hooker at Sevens by Cheetahs coach Middleton.
“Liam said since I had grown big I should play in the forwards. There were enough gusmen and wide players in the team already.”
He said of his performance in Lusaka: “It felt great for a guy of my background to be there and doing well for my country at rugby. It motivates others from such backgrounds as mine.”
Highly-confident, fit, quick and prolific, he has attracted offers from clubs in South Africa, notably the Petersburg Rugby Club where Cheetahs and Sables team-mate Gardner Nechironga plays.
Sita has been a revelation for Zimbabwe rugby, and at 22, they can look to the future with much optimism with such kind of talent at their disposal. His XVs quality was also evident when he came off the bench to almost change the complexion of the game in a World Cup qualifier last month in Namibia. The Sables however, lost. Overall he had a good season for Districts. He reserved his best for last, punishing his old club OH with two wonderful tries in the NRL final last weekend.
“I enjoyed the season at Districts and felt wanted, I grew to become a key player. I enjoyed playing so well against my former club in the final. We played OH earlier in the season and I didn’t have a good game. They said I was finished. I had a point to prove in the final and it felt so good to play the way I did.”
By Enock Muchinjo