Williams — Another loss for Zim rugby

HARARE - Former Sables coach Bright Chivandire is not surprised that Mike Williams, Leicester’s Zimbabwe-born flanker, has been making strides in England and could soon make his debut for the Red Roses.

The abrasive flanker, who was born in Bulawayo and brought up in Zimbabwe, joined Leicester Tigers in the summer of 2015 and made an immediate impact with his ball-carrying and strength in defence.

It has not taken him long to fall on the radar of England coach Eddie Jones, who included him in the provisional squad side for the Six Nations Championship.

Chivandire, however, admits that his heart bleeds to see Zimbabwe rugby starlets choosing other unions to pursue their career at the expense of their country of birth.

“These other unions have something to offer these players,” Chivandire said. “ . . . I am not surprised he has made it he was always a good player. He was always a big boy.

“He once came to a camp we had in December. That was back when we used to have December camps.

“He was still with the Sharks then. He didn’t make the Zim side due to travel commitments.”

For Leicester’s Zimbabwe-born flanker it is not a lack of love for the country of his birth.

If anything the player who is comfortable at lock or flanker, speaks highly of Zimbabwe appearing to suggest that had things been different, he would have pursued his career in the national team.

“I would like to return to Zimbabwe at the end of my career,” Williams told the Guardian in January.

“My father runs an engineering company and my parents live just outside Harare.

“The country has been through some tough times, but things seem to be coming right, if slowly.

“Last year was the first when I did not return home and it is difficult living there with what American dollars there are in the country tending to be spent in South Africa where there are more goods, but for the moment my concern is about showing Eddie Jones that he was right to pick me.”

The forward who arrived in England with the ambition of playing Test rugby qualifies to play for England through his mother’s side of the family who are from Sussex.

“I was in South Africa for five years and was picked in their under-20 squad without getting any game time, but the first three did not count for residential qualification because I had been on a student visa,” Williams said.

“I asked my agent to put out feelers in England because I knew I was qualified to represent them and Richard Hill signed me.

“He left Worcester soon after and I learned a lot from his successor, Dean Ryan, in an enjoyable two years at the club. Then Cockers spotted me.”

Williams left Zimbabwe aged 19 and he spent five years in South Africa, playing for the Sharks and the Bulls, before moving to England.

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