Sables coaching staff still hopeful

HARARE - Zimbabwe rugby coach Brendan Dawson and technical director Liam Middleton believe the Sables have the quality to beat all three teams standing in the way of a first World Cup in 21 years despite lacklustre preparation.

The Sables 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.

“I have been in Zimbabwean rugby for some time and in the past you would always feel there is one or two areas one would need to cover up,” Middleton told reporters during a press conference in Harare yesterday.

“But this time I look at number one to 15, we are covered.

“We know we can beat all three teams. We know we can beat Kenya we did it in November last year and did so convincingly. Historically we can beat Madagascar.

“We feel we can beat Namibia. The question for us is can we win all three games in 10 days? It’s a collective effort, that’s the challenge. Our strategy is to play as best as we can.

“Obviously we want to be prepared technically; tactically and physically to play all three but our mind-set must be one game at a time.”

Sables head coach Brendan Dawson called on his charges to use their shortcomings as a motivation to carry them through in Madagascar.

“The intensity in camp has been fantastic. The guys are really focused. The guys are really putting their backs in it. I don’t think you can ask for anything better than this,” he said.

“People have to understand we are an amateur union competing against professionals.

“Kenya and Namibia have had lots of millions poured in for these preparations. We have had nothing. So it’s a major ask for the players.

“But I still believe that we can do it. Remember, we played Namibia and Kenya last year in November.

“Kenya had been on the European tour and the Western Province for three weeks and what did we do? Nothing.

“Look, if we qualify for the World Cup it will change the face of Zimbabwean rugby. It will change the game in the country.”

Dawson added that qualifying for next year’s Rugby World Cup also holds a lot of personal sentiment.

“When I took over in 2007, my dream was to be the first former player to take Zimbabwe to the World Cup as a coach and that’s my focus.”

Dawson was part of the last Zimbabwe team to play in the World Cup, playing as a flank for the Sables back in 1991 in Britain.

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