Robertson likely to partner Hondo

HARARE - Zimbabwe were last night expected to name their starting line-up for tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers opener against Madagascar after arriving in the Indian Ocean island early morning ahead of the make-or-break tournament.

Upfront, Denford Mutamangira and Piet Joubert are tipped to start as the props with hooker Keith Murray completing the front row.

Old Georgians’ Murray is a proven good thrower at line-outs and is highly likely to get the nod ahead of club mate Matthew Mandioma.

A brothers lock combination is on the cards between Jan and Schalk Ferreira. Both are strong jumpers and pose massive height and competent at winning line-outs.

In the loose trio, seasoned flank Jacques Leitao is almost a certain selection to partner highly-rated eighthman Lambert Groenewald, who is a strong ball carrier, while flank Graeme Lawler is another line-out option.

Former youth international Lawler is also a strong fetcher and a monster at the breakdown, quick at inflicting turn-overs.

In the backline, new cap Guy Cronje is favourite to start in the number 10 jersey to partner fellow debutant Peter Du Toit at half-back.

The central pairing has been a talking point leading up to the tournament, with captain Daniel Hondo the only recognised midfielder in the squad.

Indications point to coach Brendan Dawson partnering Hondo with Danny Robertson, leaving Tangai Nemadire, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo and Stephan Hunduza to make up the back three.

Robertson, who has won most of his test caps at fullback, is a versatile backliner who made his entrance into international rugby at flyhalf.

The ex-Zimbabwe Under-20 star has the ability to open up any defence and possesses an eye for the gap.

Hondo and Robertson are expected to form a water-tight defence for the Sables, as both are strong tacklers.

In the back three, the Sables will go for pace and skill, especially against a Madagascar side strong in broken play and fond of playing a Sevens rugby style.

In reserves, Riaan O’Neill and Gerald Sibanda will some in as impact backline players, taking advantage of their versatility.

Highly-rated flyhalf Lenience Tambwera will have to be content with being cover for Cronje.

Probable Starting XV

15. Tangai Nemadire, 14. Tafadzwa Chitokwindo 13. Danny Robertson, 12. Daniel Hondo, 11. Stephan Hunduza, 10. Guy Cronje, 9. Peter Du Toit, 8. Lambert Groenewald, 7. Jacques Leitao, 6. Graeme Lawler, 5. Jan Ferreira, 4. Schalk Ferreira, 3. Piet Joubert, 2. Keith Murray, 1. Denford Mutamangira.

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