ZIMBABWE 15s rugby national team coach Cyprian “Supa” Mandenge is confident that his troops will finish the year on a high note by ending their winless streak this season when they take part in the fourth Cup of Nations rugby union tournament in Hong Kong this week.
BY KENNEDY NYAVAYA
The Sables, who have endured one of their most disappointing seasons in recent years, are set to fly out of the country tomorrow for the World Rugby-sanctioned tourney which will see them facing Russia, Papua New Guinea and the hosts.
“We are hoping to end the year on a good note by playing well at this tournament,” Mandenge told Standardsport after his team’s last training session on home soil yesterday. “We are trying to build a team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, so we are hoping to carry this squad forward because we have a good bunch of players and we want to work with them [because] it’s a rebuilding process,” he said.
Mandenge added that he was pleased with the change of approach to international fixture by his employers, the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) which includes an early training camp in the build-up for the end of year tour.
“We had to do things differently although we could not get some of the players due to varying reasons. Local players have been training together for a month while some foreign-based ones came last Monday and others are yet to join us,” he added.
Mandenge’s charges were, however, dealt a massive blow in the buildup to the tournament after a France-based tight head prop was ruled out due to a hamstring injury he suffered while in action for Castres Espoirs last Sunday.
Zimbabwe will open their campaign with a tough encounter against Russia on Friday before two more round robin matches against Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea on November 15 and 19 respectively.
Sables Squad for Hong Kong
Forwards: Denford Mutamangira (Captain), Brian Makamure, Lawrence Cleminson, Irvine Nduwa, Michael Passaportis, Witness Mandizha, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Lucky Sithole, Osborne Muhambi, Njabulo Ndlovu, Connor Pritchard, Andrew Rose, Biselele Tshamala, Simba Mandiona, Tolerance Zishe
Backs: Joshua Gando, Tichafara Makwanya, Lenience Tambwera, Stephan Hunduza, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Tadius Dzandiwandira, Riaan O’Neil, Kudzai Mashawi, Gavin Nyawata, Brad Ellse, Lungile Tshuma
Technical Team: Head coach: Cyprian Mandenge, Assistant coach: Costa Dinha, Team manager: Sam Samu, Physiotherapist: Tendai Muchena