Makombe begins UKZN adventure

HARARE - Zimbabwean centre Shayne Makombe intends to make the most of a life changing opportunity after he was accepted into the prestigious University of KwaZulu Natal University (UKZN) rugby programme.

Makombe, together with Matthew Mandioma (hooker) and Gavin Nyawata (centre), were granted full scholarships by the institution after passing a gruelling trial that began last November.

The trial was organised by Makombe's personal manager Themba Sibanda, the former ZRU president, in conjunction with Kisset Chiregende of Kyros Rugby.

The trio will now join former Young Sables captain Gareth Meikle, who has already spent one season playing for UKZN Impi side in the Varsity Shield.

The UKZN rugby programme has produced four Springbok Test captains and three World Cup winners.

Speedster Makombe, who can also play on the wing, will have to juggle studying for a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree and trying to secure a regular slot in the UKZN Impi side.

“As for me, I want to get down to business of my regular class work and working hard to make sure that I make the team and play regularly,” the former Harare Sports Club backline player told the Daily News yesterday.

“I’m on an annual scholarship which is renewed at the start of every year depending that I pass my class and I also play well for the team.”

2014 is a crucial year for Zimbabwean rugby with the Confederation of African Rugby Africa Cup set to be held in Madagascar later in June the highlight of the year.

The Africa Cup will act as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Cup in England and the Sables will have to contend with Kenya, Uganda and Namibia for the single slot available.

“I’m hoping that I play well for my university and get a call up to come back and play for the Sables when the Africa Cup comes around in June,” said Makombe.

“It will all depend on my schedule but in June there will be a semester break and like anyone else, I would like to represent my country.

“In March, there is also the Hong Kong Sevens tournament and it is another opportunity for me to represent my country.”

Makombe, who made his Sables debut against Madagascar in Uganda at the 2011 Africa Cup, has gone on to be capped eight times by Zimbabwe.

The former Churchill Boys High first team captain has also represented the Cheetahs at the Africa Cup Sevens.

However, Makombe hopes to make an impact with UKZN Impi in the Varsity Shield first.

“Obviously the team has big plans and it is evident in the fact that they appointed former the former All Blacks, Force and Lions coach John Mitchell to turn around their fortunes,” he said.

“Our aim this year is to play well in the Varsity Shield and hopefully win promotion to play in the Varsity Cup next season.

“The players and coaches are really focused and there is a lot of investment in the sport compared back to Zimbabwe.

“There is a lot of competition of getting into the team and you have to be at your best all the time and I think it will help me develop as a player.”

UKZN Impi open their 2014 season with a Varsity Shield clash against the Central University of Technology Bloemfontein on January 27 and the match will be live on SuperSport.

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