Weakened Sables bullish ahead of Dubai

HARARE - Zimbabwe's rugby team has confidence it can still leave a mark on the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations in Dubai next week despite losing key players to the Sevens national side which leaves for South Africa tomorrow for the second leg of the IRB World Sevens Series in Port Elizabeth.

The Sables were dealt a massive blow on Thursday after the Sevens management, despite earlier promises to split key players among the two sides, included all big guns for the Port Elizabeth event.

Just like they were at the Windhoek Lager Ti-Nation series three weeks ago, the Sables will now have to make do with a weakened side at another IRB-sanctioned international event.

Sables coach Losson Mtongwiza, however, reckons the Sables squad headed for Dubai is a much stronger group than the one which lost both tests to Namibia and Spain.

“Both Namibia and Spain are stronger than the teams we will play in Dubai, and I believe we have a stronger side going to Dubai than the one which played in Windhoek,” Mtongwiza told the Daily News yesterday.

“I think they will be able to do well. We still have depth in the side. We have quite a few new players coming through, they are going to add a new dimension to the team.”

The Sables technical bench yesterday named a 31-man training squad ahead of the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations, where they will compete against the hosts United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Belgium.

The squad consists of three overseas-based players in the UK-based trio of flanker Shingi Mpofu, uncapped prop Nic Winwood and centre Tommy Nelson. The three will fly directly to the UAE from their bases.
 
The other uncapped players in the forwards pack are Durban-based lock Sanele Sibanda, Old Georgians front row Simba Musarutwa and Johannesburg-based Keith Murray.

In the backline, University of KwaZulu Natal centre Ricky Chirengende leads the list of uncapped players, which also has the OGs trio of Graham Kaulback, Jonathan Miller and Johnno McWade.

The Sables backline has been severely handicapped by the absence of Daniel Hondo, Gardner Nechironga, Tangai Nemadire and Wes Mbanje, who are traveling to Port Elizabeth with Sevens. Regular fullback Danny Robertson has gone to Australia on holiday after failing to recover from an ankle injury.

PROVISIONAL SQUAD

Forwards: Costa Dinha (captain), Pieter Joubert, Nic Winwood, Keith Murray, Simba Musarurwa, Tatenda Karuru, Brian Makamure, Jan Ferreira, Sanile Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Shingi Mpofu, Lucky Sithole, Takunda Chifokoyo, Samson Makuku.

Backs: Ricky Chirengende, Graham Kaulback, Scotty Jones, Phil Machisa, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafara Makwanya, Tommy Nelson, Jonathan Miller, Jafet Ndebele, Gavin Nyawata, Kuda Chiwanza, Shayne Makombe, Steven Hunduza, Josh Rowe, Johnno MacWade.



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