Pritchard blow for Cheetahs

HARARE – The Zambezi Cheetahs’ preparations for the 2017 Africa Cup Sevens rugby tournament suffered a major blow following the injury to Australia-based flanker Connor Pritchard.

Pritchard underwent surgery to repair a fractured jaw yesterday morning and will only return to the field after three months.

The Griffith University student was one of the star performers for the Sables during a disappointing 2017 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup campaign.

Together with scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki the duo were included in the Gold Cup best XV squad.

Pritchard was expected to be part of the Zambezi Cheetahs squad that is preparing to take part in the Africa Cup Sevens tournament to be held in Kampala, Uganda in October.

The team needs to reach the finals of the tournament in Kampala in order to secure a ticket for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens finals in San Francisco, United States.

Success in Kampala also secures the Zambezi Cheetahs’ core status in the 2018-19 World Rugby Sevens Series. 

Team manager Donald Mangenje said Pritchard’s injury was a blow for the team but backed the flanker’s replacements to provide enough cover in his absence.

“We were looking forward to having him in the side, no doubt his valuable experience and form he displayed with the Sables was going to come in handy for the Cheetahs,” Mangenje told the Daily News yesterday.

“It is a blow for the team losing such a young and talented player who still has a lot to offer but I believe we have got enough resources in the side to fill in the void that came about as a result of the unfortunate injury.

“We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he will be able to get back to his usual best when he returns.”

The Zambezi Cheetahs have been in camp for the last two weeks with head coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba taking some of the players through their paces in Bulawayo before crossing over to the capital this week.

“The training has been good so far and we got a major boost with the unveiling of the Zambezi Lager sponsorship which is not only a boost for the team but to a larger extent rugby in general which comes at the right time as we prepare for the Africa Cup,” Mangenje said.

“We are looking forward to carrying the form we had at the Victoria Falls Sevens tournament where we managed to win the tournament as we head to Zambia for the Lusaka Sevens with the sole goal of winning.”

Zimbabwe Rugby Union spokesperson Raymond Gonte also expressed disappointment following Pritchard’s injury.

Zambezi Cheetahs training squad: Tapiwa Tsomondo, Riaan O’Niel (False Bay,SA), Njabulo Ndlovu (UWC,SA), Biselele Tshamala, Ngoni Chibuwe (College Rovers, SA), Brian Dube (Old Boys, SA), Mkhululi Ndhlela (Tuks, SA), Hilton Mudariki (Pirates, SA), Gardner Nechironga (Raiders, SA), Boyd Rouse, Mark Kidson (Bury St Edmunds, UK), Shayne Makombe (RC Compiegnois, France), Tafadzwa Chitokwindo (TV Pforzheim, Germany), Lucky Sithole, Osborne Muhambi, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Takudzwa Francisco, Zepheniah Nkomo, Shingi Hlanguyo, Russel Dodo (HSC), Stephan Hunduza, Scottie Johns, Lenience Tambwera, Takudzwa Chieza, Shingi Katsvere, Wilson Seremani (OGs), Innocent Nyatsanza ), McDonald Kazingizi, Prince Dube (Police Defenders), Gideon Muyambo, Dennis Museredza (Murate), Tinashe Gwisai, Joshua Gando, Tichafara Makwanya (OH), Nelson Madida, Tarisai Mugariri, Walter Gode, Theodore Chiremba (Mat Warriors), Kilvan Magunje (Gweru).

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