De Villiers now believes

HARARE - With just over a week before the Sables take on Morocco in their first 2018 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup match, coach Peter de Villiers is convinced his side is now ready for the battle to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Sables take on the North Africans at Harare Sports Club on June 16 before going on the road to take on Kenya in Nairobi on June 30.

Zimbabwe will remain on the road as they will take on Tunisia in Monastair on July 7 before returning home to host Namibia on August 4 in their penultimate game of the Gold Cup.

The Sables will then travel to Kampala for their final game against Uganda on August 18.

In order to qualify for the World Cup, Zimbabwe needs to win the Gold Cup this year to join South Africa as two of Africa’s representatives in Japan.

The Sables recently completed two training camps; the first one at Falcon College in Esigodini before going to Tshwane, South Africa at the High Performance Centre (HPC).

While in South Africa, the Sables also played two practice matches against the Blue Bulls Under-19 and the Blue Bulls.

De Villiers, who was appointed in February this year to replace Cyprian Mandenge, is convinced he has done everything possible with the limited amount of time available with the squad.

“Bringing the boys here showed them another dimension of how high performance sport should be done,” de Villiers told Sables TV yesterday regarding the team’s stay in Tshwane.

“It’s a different mentality, a different outlook and then everything is around them so you can easily be lost in circumstances like this if you are not used to it.

“They adapted quickly to this and they brought it onto the field. What worries me at the moment is that I had to do six-months work in three weeks; I might have overworked them a bit but luckily we have a few more weeks before we hit our first Test week.

“It is now my responsibility to manage the players and keep them fresh; to go onto the field fresh for our first game which is so important.”

The former Springboks coach believes he is working with a good backroom staff that will help him manage his players’ health in the run-up to the Morocco game.

“This is my biggest challenge but then again, I have got a good medical team around me that will advise me on all these things,” he said.

“They tested all the players, they were all assessed medically and we know where they stand and we now know how to handle them; to really give them that top notch. So I’m really, really happy to know where we are now.”               

Sables centre Kudzai Mashawi also lauded the team’s preparations at HPC as they gear up to take on Morocco.    

“It been quite an experience; tough, mentally but it’s been a learning curve. We had our moments game-wise; we learnt a lot coming from where we were at from the Select game,” the Sables backline player said.

“Just coming together is good for the Sables group and everyone is now buying into the idea of how the coaches want us to play in the qualifiers.

“We are also looking at becoming better players as a group and the nation as well.”

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