Zimbabwe national Sevens rugby team coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba has cast his net wide in his quest to build a strong squad ahead of the new season.
Nyamutsamba has included Australia-born player Hayden Wilson in his 33-man training squad ahead of the upcoming Kwese International Sevens tournament on home soil.
The Kwese International Sevens which is expected to feature a mixture of African and European teams will be played at Harare Sports Club from March 23 to 24 and Zimbabwe, who are expected to field two teams, will be using it as an opportunity to prepare for next month’s Hong Kong Sevens.
Headlining the long list of new faces in the squad is 23-year old Wilson, who plays for Normanby Hounds in the Brisbane Rugby League.
Wilson, who was born in Australia qualifies to represent Zimbabwe through his parents and says he is relishing the prospect of playing international rugby with the Cheetahs.
“It only feels like yesterday when I was a five-year-old kid sitting at the Christmas table listening to all the amazing stories of what Zimbabwe means to my family and I think to myself one day I hope I can go and explore it,” Wilson said.
“Lucky enough this dream is about to come true when I come through next week to join the Zimbabwe Sevens training squad in preparation for Honk Kong.
“I have lived in Australia all my life. If I was given the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe it would be truly be a dream come true, Zimbabwe has a significant meaning in my heritage and I am more than happy to put my hand up and represent Zimbabwe,” said Wilson.
Wilson is one of several uncapped players named in the expanded squad of 33 players as Nyamutsamba looks to try different combinations ahead of next month’s Hong Kong Sevens and the 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers later this year.
Zimbabwe Sevens coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba (foreground) has widened his selection prospects by including foreign-born Zimbabweans.
Some of the other notable new faces in the squad include the trio of England-based winger Matthew McNab, Old Georgians scrumhalf Jeremiah Jaravaza and Portugal-based lock Brian Nyaude, who will be aiming to earn their first caps for the Sevens side, having previously featured for the national fifteens side, the Sables.
Cheetahs’ team manager Donald Mangenje believes the unavailability of the senior players in the squad due to club commitments presents an opportunity for emerging talent to compete for their spots.
The Cheetahs will have to make do without six key players such as Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Shayne Makombe, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Connor Pritchard, Lucky Sithole and Shingirayi Hlanguyo.
“Last year was a good year for the team. We had and still have several options when selecting our final squad and whenever the senior players are not available it creates a window for youngsters to earn starting berths in the team,” Mangenje said.
Cheetahs Training Squad: Shingirai Katsvere, Brandon Mandivenga , Kudzai Mashawi , Hilton Mudariki, Stephan Hunduza, Riaan O’Neill, Boyd Rouse, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Takudzwa Kumadiro , Tarisai Mugariri, Biselele Tshamala , Ngoni Chibuwe, Andrea Banda, Mathew McNab, Hayden Wilson, Brian Nyaude, Blithe Maveresa, Jeremiah Jaravaza, Takudzwa Francisco, Akim Dick, Lenience Tambwera, Tichaona Hwangwa, Tinotenda Nyawasha, Sean Kusena, Martin Mangongo, Gideon Muyambo, Ngoni Chibuwe, Dylan Jera, Brighton Matiashe, Tatenda Maunga, Quinton Jone, Munopa Muneta and Munesu Muneta