Left out by Zim, called-up by WP

HARARE - While his native country is struggling for game time ahead of month-end’s World Cup qualification tournament, Tapiwa Tsomondo will indirectly help rivals Namibia with much needed preparations following his inclusion in Western Province’s starting line-up for tomorrow’s warm-up match in Windhoek.

Namibia – who will be one of Zimbabwe’s biggest threats at the World Cup qualifiers in Madagascar – will clash with South African franchise DHL Western Province in the Namibian capital tomorrow, and Harare-born Tsomondo has been selected by the Cape Town side at blind-side flank.

Loose forward Tsomondo, interestingly, was not considered for Zimbabwe’s squad for the qualifiers.

Western Province have been helping out Zimbabwe’s rivals with game time for the World Cup qualifiers, and only last weekend they were in Nairobi, where they beat Kenya 32-28. Kenya, alongside hosts Madagascar, will clash with Zimbabwe and Namibia in a four-nation tournament in Antananarivo with the winner qualifying for next year’s World Cup in England.

In their win over Kenya, the team’s performance did not overly satisfy coach John Dobson, who cited the breakdown as their weakest link.

And in an attempt to correct their shortcomings, the WP have made some big changes to their line-up.

Gary van Aswegen will start at inside centre, Tsomondo will make his debut in the No.6 shirt, Ian Groenewald comes in at lock and hooker Neil Rautenbach replaces Stephan Coetzee in the No.2 jersey.

Former Prince Edward eighthman Tsomondo, who has represented Zimbabwe at Under-20 level, is highly rated in Cape Town, where he turns out for renowned Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) Super League side Hamilton Rugby Club, said to be South Africa’s oldest rugby club.

And speaking to www.wprugby.com, Province coach Dobson heaped praise on the young Zimbabwean. 

“We’re particularly excited about the selection of Tapiwa Tsomondo, who is still Under-21,” Dobson said.

“Tapiwa is a product of our excellent amateur scouting system and he came to our attention via the DHL WP Under-21 trials which were recently held.

“He is raw, but an exciting prospect and we’re relishing the chance to work him and help him develop even more.

“He will play as our fetcher this week, but he also has excellent ball-carrying abilities and we look forward to seeing how he fares against someone like Rohan Kitshoff – whom, of course, we know very well at WP. As I said, the breakdown is an area we need to improve on and Tapiwa will have a role to play there.”

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