The Cheetahs departed for San Francisco on Saturday to compete at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, next weekend.
Zimbabwe is the continent’s fourth representative at the competition along with Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.
Undaunted by their first fixture against Wales in San Francisco, the Cheetahs will be fielding two captains, Stephan Hunduza and Boyd Rouse, both a representation of strength and agility.
“We’re not worried about Wales. As Zimbabweans, we have speed. Our pressure has been on perfecting the skills we’ve been working on whilst utilising our speed,” Hunduza said in an interview.
Rouse added: “Going into this World Cup, we’ve got a good combination of speed, skill and physicality — when needed against certain opposition.”
Zimbabwe will be fielding a younger team which will be looking to make early scores in the first two to three minutes of each fixture.
Player scouting for San Francisco began in January this year, when the technical team issued an open call for players interested in being considered for the Cheetahs.
The selection of younger players for this edition of the competition is born out of a need to establish continuity by developing younger players able to commit more time thereby contributing to the team’s competitive advantage.
The fielding of younger players has been the subject of concern in some circles, however, in an interview with Zimbabwe Sevens head coach, Gilbert Nyamutsamba, said: “We attended the Rome Sevens three weeks ago which helped our young players prepare for what’s coming ahead. They managed to play at an international tournament, rubbing shoulders with great players and I’m happy that most of our players stood out.”
Zimbabwe’s Shayne Makombe was crowned player of the tournament, as the team finished second in Rome.
“My work now is to keep the players grounded. Yes, it’s a world cup where you’re representing your country, — a dream come true for most of these young men but, at the same time, it’s still a rugby game and we need to approach it as such,” Nyamutsamba said.
Players representing Zimbabwe at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens are: Boyd Rouse, Connor Pritchard, Nelson Madida, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Ngoni Chibuwe, Shayne Makombe, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Biselele Tshamala, Shingirai Hlanguyo, Tarisai Mugariri, Stephan Hunduza and Riaan O’Niell.
The team will be travelling with Margaret Gibson as their physiotherapist, head coach Nyamutsamba and manager, Donald Mangenje.
The team has two non-travelling reserves in Takudzwa Kumadiro and Mkhululi Ndlela.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens is scheduled for July 20-22 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, US.