By Petros Kausiyo and Nokutenda Chiyangwa
Despite his team eyeing a successful defence of the Kwesé Victoria Falls title, Cheetahs coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba insists their main focus remains ensuring they are ready for the Rugby Sevens World Cup later in July. The Cheetahs who are looking to retain the Victoria Falls crown over the weekend were further boosted late on Tuesday by the arrival of France-based hooker Shayne Makombe and centre Ryan O’Neil who plies his trade with False Bay in Cape Town.
Makombe and O’Neil had been the missing links in a squad that blends youth and experience.
“As coach I am still using the Victoria Falls as part of the World Cup preparations.
“As much as we need to win the tournament we have our bigger eye on the World Cup and it is best for us to use this tournament for that,” said Nyamutsamba.
“If we just go there and try to win at all costs without exposing potential players I think we will have lost it, we need to look into the bigger picture.”
The Zimbabwe coach, however, bemoaned the absence of opposition from outside the continent at the Victoria Falls tourney where Hong Kong and France had earlier been expected to participate.
“We have always wanted to explore different types of opposition so the absence of any European or Asian teams is a minus for us.
“We always want to learn from the best, but we will keep looking for tournaments to take part in,” said Nyamutsamba.
Zimbabwe will also field a President’s and Goshawks teams.
Unlike most of the teams that have made the World Cup showcase in San Francisco, the Cheetahs have not had the best of preparations owing largely to lack of resources.
Nyamutsamba is the only Zimbabwean coach to win the Hong Kong qualifier tournament.
His Cheetahs also finished 13th at the Sevens World Cup in 2013, a vast improvement from their 2009 finish at the same global showcase where they had finished 17th after winning the Bowl.
“I am a believer in the philosophy that you reap what you sow and from the amount of preparations that we have put in for this year’s tournament a quarter-final finish will be a bonus for us in Hong Kong.
“With the conditions that have been provided and the resources that we have we cannot expect to win Hong Kong.
“But what I can assure the nation is that if we continue with the intensity of this kind of camp we have now, we will be better by the time we go to the World Cup,” Nyamutsamba said.
Team manager Donald Mangenje weighed in and said they are also using the on-going camp and the tournament to enhance bonding.
“As we are training, we are not focusing on tactics only, but what we are also focusing on is the team bonding before we go to Hong Kong, we need to bring everybody up to speed in terms of knowing how to work as a team.
“We need them to get used to being together and we need to focus on our line play.
“Working with a large group of individuals is a bit challenging, but the players are putting in their 110 percent effort and if they continue to do so then we are assured of a win,” Mangenje said.