Poor preps hurting us: Sables

HARARE - The Sables begin their 2017 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup with an away fixture against Senegal in Dakar this Saturday and are scheduled to depart for West Africa tonight.

Faced with such a crucial assignment, the Zimbabwe national rugby side only got into to camp on Sunday to prepare for the match and prior to their first Test match the locals’ only form of international preparation was against neighbours Zambia early this month.

The Daily News’ Austin Karonga caught up with Sables’ captain and prop Denford Mutamangira to talk about their preparations ahead of the Senegal trip.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

Q: You are up against Senegal in your first match of the Gold Cup, what are your expectations going to Dakar?

A: I think it’s going to be a tough game; we haven’t played Senegal in a long while so we don’t actually know what to expect. But when you going into a game you just have to expect anything and we have to go there like we playing any other team. We don’t wanna underestimate them but we also need to make sure that we are well prepared for the game.

Q: What sort of mentality do you carry into such a high profile game?

A: Certainly we need mental strength and preparation is key. Unfortunately it’s (adequate preparations) something that we have not managed to do as Zimbabwe and I don’t know why. It’s something that we have been talking about for years now and nobody seems to be really taking it seriously, they (Zimbabwe Rugby Union) think a game is won when you play for 80 minutes but preparation is key to everything.

Q: What is the impact of lack of preparations particularly where you go into an international assignment?

A: To be quite honest we have been there before and it’s actually sad for us to keep on repeating the same mistakes and expect a different result.

We used to be very good, I believe we (are) still good but because of our lack of preparation and our lack of organisation it also changes the mind-set of the guys.

People used to look forward to playing for Zimbabwe, doing whatever they can to make sure that we win every game but if we keep on making the same mistakes and not preparing the team well and not being organised people will get to a point whereby they will say “well if they are not taking it seriously why should we?”

I would like to give credit to the guys because despite all these things they always come out and play their hearts out. But we need to prepare. Look at the other nations; Kenya, Uganda, as much as we still believe that we are better than them but their preparation is way better than ours and it was evident last year; we lost to Kenya by a huge score which is something that should never happen at home but it comes back to preparations.

Like now, we got into camp on Sunday, not everyone was in which meant that we only started team session on Monday which is not good enough. We are leaving on Wednesday (tonight) and we get there on Thursday (tomorrow) around 3pm so we only have got Friday then we play on Saturday so if we don’t take it seriously then it’s gonna be difficult for us.

Yes, we do we have good players but good players alone without preparations and adequate training is not gonna get us where we want to be.

Q: Having said this how do you see the future of local rugby?

A: Zim rugby has got a future. We have got talented players. If you look even outside Zimbabwe, we have got so many Zimbabweans playing at a higher level but what we just need to do now is to have proper structures.

We need a platform, we need to create an atmosphere an environment for these guys to become competitive players but then if we don’t then their talent is just gonna go to waste.

But I would say to them (aspiring players) they should do what they can as players and that is training hard and working hard.

We have guys that played out there, we also have good coaches as well and they (players) should be able to take advantage of that.

They should ask them whatever they want to know. Be it help in technical stuff and that’s what they can do as individuals then structures will help develop them and realise their dreams. But if we don’t have those structures it will be difficult.

Look at the talent that we have all these youngsters here they could be professional rugby players but if we don’t set a platform for them they will never realise their dream.

Some of us were fortunate because we also had people behind the scenes who shared the same vision with us, who believed in us that we managed to go outside the country and because they believed in us they made sure we would get like 80 percent of the things that we needed that we become better players and went there and it was an eye-opening experience and if Zimbabwe could only invest just 50 percent to start with, our rugby will go far.

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