By Petros Kausiyo
Harare Sports Club coach Daniel Hondo believes the changes they have infused into the Sables could bring a fresh impetus into the remainder Zimbabwe’s Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign that has terribly gone off the rails. Hondo, a former Zimbabwe international has been roped in by Peter De Villiers as the back line coach, at least for the two remaining group games against Namibia and Uganda.
The Sables will host their bogey side Namibia at the newly renovated Hartsfield Grounds in Bulawayo on Saturday before wrapping up their failed mission for a place at the 2019 World Cup finals, with an away date against Uganda in Kampala.
A 23-23 draw against Morocco in Harare in their opening game on June 16 was then followed by back to back losses to Kenya (45-36) in Nairobi and Tunisia (18-14) in Tunis.
Those results have left Zimbabwe’s World Cup hopes in smoke with the Sables instead now battling for survival in the elite Gold Cup as they are in fourth place on the six-team log table while the Namibians with, an unbeaten run and with a comfortable lead at the top, are primed to seal Africa’s ticket to the World Cup.
Following the changes in the technical set up that saw former captain and assistant coach Brendon Dawson being demoted to the development structures, Hondo has been roped in as De Villiers’ new lieutenant and specifically working as a backline coach.
Hondo in defending the changes said the move should not be “misread as a sign of doubt on the players” that had been doing duty in the last three assignments where Zimbabwe’s defending has also largely been poor.
“We’re not doubting the players that have been playing rather, it’s an opportunity for us to see what other players have to offer for our game on Saturday. Namibia remains unchallenged in the competition and we hope we will be the team that puts pressure on them,” Hondo said.
Hondo, who also represented the country at international Sevens tournaments with the Cheetahs has already led his Sports Club outfit into qualifying for the upcoming SARU Gold Cup.
Among those called up for the showdown with Namibia are the Cheetahs trio of backliners – Shayne Makombe and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo – and flanker Connor Pritchard.
Pritchard played against Morocco and Kenya but missed the trip to Tunisia as he returned home to join the Cheetahs ahead of their dance with the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, United States. The Sables coaches have also roped in Germany based lock Antipas Kamkwindo who will be replacing Johannes Stander, Irvin Nduwa and recalled scrumhalves Hilton Mudariki and Jeremiah Jaravaza.
Mudariki who recently moved to the United Kingdom flew into Harare yesterday ahead of Saturday’s encounter and returns after missing the trips to Tunisia and Kenya.
After breaking on Sunday to allow the squad to join fellow Zimbabweans in participating in the country’s harmonised elections yesterday, captain Denford Mutamangira and his troops were expected to regroup and shift their camp to Bulawayo last night.
Denford Mutamangira, David Makanda, Farai Mudariki, Irvine Nduwa, Fortunate Chipendo, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Connor Pritchard, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Ernest Mudzengerere, Lenience Tambwera, Mathew McNab, Brandon Mandivenga, Kudzai Mashawi, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Shingirai Katsvere, Mathew Mandioma, Cleopas Kundiona, Lawrence Cleminson, Antipas Kamkwindo, Brian Nyaude, Hilton Mudariki, Ziyanda Khupe, Shayne Makombe, Tafadzwa Mhende, Lucky Sithole and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.