BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE rugby international Connor Pritchard has expressed his desire to play for the Australian Super Rugby franchise Queensland Reds after breaking into the first team of Queensland Premier Rugby side Bull Sharks last week.
The 22-year-old openside flanker, who has starred for both the Sables and the Zimbabwe Sevens side, the Cheetahs made his Queensland Premier Rugby debut last Saturday, scoring a brilliant try for the Bull Sharks in their narrow 26-20 defeat to Brothers.
The Queensland Premier League provides rugby players in the north-eastern state of Australia with a stepping stone for selection into the Queensland Reds and other teams in Super Rugby or other professional rugby competitions.
Pritchard moved from Victoria Falls to Australia two years ago to study for a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree at Griffith University. Upon arriving Down Under, he linked up with Bond University Rugby Club with whom he won the 2018 Gold Coast District Rugby Union premiership.
But Pritchard, who came through the ranks of the South African side, Sharks’ academy side is targeting a Super Rugby contract with the Reds.
“I really want to try to crack the Reds and obviously Zimbabwe is not offering me a contract so I decided that this year I would focus my rugby here and do the step up. So Bond was my best option,” Pritchard told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
“It’s amazing, knowing where you want to be and people who are already there surround you and you learn off them every single day.”
During the course of the season Pritchard will be hoping to impress Reds coach Brad Thorn, the former All Blacks star, who is well known for his willingness to reward up-and-coming Queensland players.
Born in Brisbane, Australia before relocating to Zimbabwe at the age of two, Pritchard was introduced to the sport at the age of seven at Victoria Falls Primary School before progressing to captain Falcon College.
The open side flanker also captained Zimbabwe Under-18 Sevens rugby team, which won a bronze medal at the African Youth Games held in Botswana last year.
In addition to this, he captained Zimbabwe Under-19 at the 2015 Junior Africa Cup before leading the Zimbabwe Under-20 side in the 2016 Junior World Rugby Trophy where the Young Sables put on a spirited show.
Unlike most of his contemporaries who have gone on to switch allegiance to other countries even after being playing for the country’s youth teams, Pritchard’s goal was always to play for the Sables.