ZIMBABWE senior rugby team coach Peter de Villiers yesterday began his era as Sables coach by including five uncapped players in his team to play Morocco in the opening round of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, more importantly, the 2019 World Cup qualifier, at Harare Sports Club.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Exciting former youth international Shingi Katsvere starts at fullback while talented centre Brendon Mandivenga is expected to partner Kudzai Mashawi in midfield.
Former Zimbabwe Under-18 star Matthew McNab will also earn his maiden Sables cap on the left wing, while the other debutant is in the forwards, where Matabeleland Warriors lock will partner veteran Fortune Chipendu in the second row.
United Kingdom-based winger Dylan Baptista will start from the replacements.
De Villiers, who will take charge of his first Test as Zimbabwe coach against the Moroccans, said he expected players to put on a show full of attacking flair and skill which is synonymous with local players.
“Zimbabweans are natural athletes, if you change those kind of attributes, then you take away that edge that they do have over the rest of the world.
“You can (only) help them to make quicker decisions, react quicker and then to put the right structure and game plan in place so that it can fit their style of play.
“The backs like that flair and I’m telling you the lines that they are running, off course, we are not doing that with opponents and I do understand it’s going to be very much different on Saturday, but what I can tell you is that if they can do what they showed us they can do, they’re going to be a contest for round about 50 to 60 minutes and then I think they should be able to go do what they do best,” he said.
While the backline appears to be laden with quick and exciting young talent, De Villiers also expects a physical battle from forwards department, where skipper Denford Mutamangira and experienced Fortune Chipendu are expected to direct operations on the park upfront.
“Like Dawson said the (Zimbabwean) forwards like that physical confrontation so we had to build on that to keep them in the game,” he said.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to get their campaign off to a winning start against the Moroccans which would enhance their chances of automatically qualifying for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
After tomorrow’s game, Zimbabwe head for Kenya ahead of a clash with the East Africans on June 30 before another away clash against Tunisia on July 7.
The Sables will take on Namibia at Hartsfield Rugby Stadium on August 18 in the penultimate Rugby World Cup qualifier before taking on Uganda in their final match on August 18.
Sables starting XV: 1 Denford Mutamangira, 2 David Makanda, 3 Farai Mudariki, 4 Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, 5 Fortune Chipendu, 6 Takudzwa Mandiwanza, 7 Connor Pritchard, 8 Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, 9 Hilton Mudariki, 10 Lenience Tambwera, 11 Matthew McNab, 12 Brendon Mandivenga, 13 Kudzai Mashawi, 14 Takudzwa Kumadiro, 15 Shingi Katsvere
Replacement: 16 Mathew Mandioma, 17 Gabriel Sipapate, 18 Lawrence Cleminson, 19 Brian Nyaude, 20 Njabulo Ndlovu, 21 Peter du Toit, 22 Ngoni Chibuwe, 23 Dylan Baptista