BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE rugby great Daniel Hondo (pictured) is excited and ready to give back to the local game after he was given another chance to coach the national rugby sevens team by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) last week.
ZRU announced new head coach appointments for national teams which also saw Derek Chiwara retained as the women Cheetahs coach with Munyaradzi Mhonda assuming the women 15s squad reins.
There were also appointments for Shaun de Souza and Tangisayi Chidhakwa as head coaches for the men and women Under-20 national teams respectively.
However, it is the return of Hondo which headlines the new coaching appointments and he can’t wait to get started.
“I am excited. It’s a privilege and honour to serve my country. Rugby has given me a lot so it’s rightly so that I give back,” Hondo said in an exclusive interview with Standardsport.
Hondo, who retired from playing in 2013, had his first stint as Cheetahs coach in 2015 and came agonisingly close to leading the squad to becoming a core team on the lucrative World Rugby Sevens Series.
The team made it into the final at the core team qualifier in Hong Kong before losing 22-19 to Russia in the deciding tie in March of that year.
In 2016 Hondo guided the team to the semi-finals of the same tournament before losing 22-0 to eventual winners Japan.
He has made qualification into the World Sevens series main circuit the priority in his second coming.
“Well, the goal is making the [Sevens] circuit and staying in it because I have always felt it’s where we belong. There is also a need to have a player base that is competitive at the big platforms. And for me, conquering Africa is always a must.
“I have definitely learnt a lot from my first stint as the coach of this team. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that we are capable. We simply have to get the small things right first and everything will fall into place,” Hondo said.
Before his appointment to the Cheetahs top job, Hondo was already part of the Zimbabwe Sables technical team as the back line coach.
But the former cricketer will have to choose to concentrate on the Cheetahs job only.
“It’s pretty tough to do both jobs so I might have to drop the Sables role so that I can give my all to the big Cheetahs responsibility,” Hondo said.
Hondo will also have an opportunity to qualify the country for the 2022 Sevens World Cup, which will be hosted by South Africa in Cape Town, the first time it will be played in Africa.
“We will have to take our chances because everyone in the qualifying tournament has a chance. We have to prepare well and give it a go,” he said.
The new Cheetahs coach is yet to choose his backroom staff.