Lang sees positive side of things

HARARE - Zimbabwe loose forward Kingsley Lang feels lack of warm-up games ahead of month-end’s World Cup qualification tournament could be a blessing in disguise for the Sables.

Brendan Dawson’s men head to Madagascar for the qualifiers to face the hosts, Namibia and Kenya in a four-nation Africa Cup contest, whose winner automatically qualifies for next year’s World Cup in England.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) has been forced to cancel all planned real-match preparations due to empty coffers, but England-based Lang believes it may end up working in their favour as the players will be “fresh” when they arrive in Madagascar.

“It would have been ideal to play some games, but that’s not the case,” said the 26-year-old back-rower, who turns out for Jersey RFC in the second-tier of the English rugby union league system.

“There are a few things we would have ironed out if we had played, but obviously we don’t have that luxury. But I don’t see that as a big problem.

“We are going to have a 10-day training camp next week, it will be tough camp and competition for places will be hard. That should be adequate for us. And when we get to Madagascar we will be fresh.”

With rivals Kenya and Namibia sharpening up against South African first-class sides, Zimbabwe only have the training camp in Harare ahead of the tough trip, and Lang feels high-intensity training during that get-together is a must in order to make up for the lack of game time preparation.  

“We need to make sure we work very hard when we get into camp, we need to focus on a system and stick to the system when we get to play,” said Lang.

“If we play the way we practice we should not have a problem when we get to Madagascar.”

Lang hugely impressed when making his debut for Zimbabwe during last year’s Windhoek Draught tri-nation in Namibia against the hosts and Kenya, and will be one of key men for the Sables in their quest to qualify for the country’s first World Cup in more two decades.

The Sables lost 35-26 to Namibia and beat Kenya 29-14 last November.

“We played Namibia and Kenya last November and we got a gauge of what we need to do to beat them and qualify,” said Lang.

Lang, a regular eighthman who is also comfortable in any of the other two back-row positions, will face tough competition though in a department which on paper looks the Sables’ strongest link.

Eighthman Takunda Chifokoyo alongside flankers Jacques Leitao, Andrew Rose, Njabulo Ndlovu and the uncapped Lambert Groenewald are the other able players vying for places in the loose trio.

“Ja, having a lot of players competing for the same position is always good,” added Lang. “It motivates you to train hard and get picked ahead of the other guys.”

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