Winwood, Chifokoyo ruled out

HARARE - Prop Nick Winwood has been ruled out of Zimbabwe’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers in Madagascar after failing to commit to the Sables’ 10-day training camp in Harare while eighthman Takunda Chifokoyo has withdrawn from the squad.

Winwood – who plays for Blackheath RFC in England – has however been put on standby, with Old Hararians loose forward Chifokoyo pulling out of the squad for personal reasons. 

Zimbabwe are in camp preparing for month-end’s Africa Cup contest in Madagascar against the hosts, Namibia and Kenya.

The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for next year’s Rugby World Cup in England.

Although they were boosted last night by the arrival of the Golden Lions pair of fly-half Guy Cronje and flank Lambert Groenewald, the Sables have been hit by injuries while other players have not been selected for various reasons.

“We have decided because of his (Winwood) time commitments to move him to the reserves. He could not commit fully to the 10-day training programme,” ZRU director of rugby Liam Middleton told the Daily News yesterday.

“We feel we have a good field of props. We have decided he would go on our reserves list and maybe join the side if the need arises.”

The other props in the training squad are Denford Mutamangira, Piet Joubert, Jakov Jakov, Fidel Nyabusha, Kevin Nqindi, Simba Mandioma and Lawrence Clemenson.

On Chifokoyo, Middleton said: “Chifokoyo has withdrawn himself from the side for personal reasons. When we informed him of his selection he immediately wrote to us to excuse himself from national duty.”

Middleton, however, was not pressing the panic button.

“We are in a good place now,” Middleton added.

“Obviously, we are training quite hard and couples of guys are getting treatment here and there, but nothing major. We have been working on fitness levels.”

The Sables will step up preparations tomorrow with a Possibles versus a Probables match at Harare Sports Club, starting 6pm.

The match will be open to the public and will help the technical team trim down the squad to the 26-man touring party.

Meanwhile, Scotland-based flank Andrew Rose is still battling against time to be fit for the qualifiers.

Rose, who captains Boroughmuir Rugby Club, has been battling through a calf injury since helping the Edinburgh club gain promotion into the Scottish Premiership last season.

“His physiotherapy is ongoing. He is still in the side. We have some time before we make decisions, which should be next Wednesday,” said Middleton.

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