Sables begin camp

HARARE - The Zimbabwe national rugby side will begin their final camp on Sunday ahead of the 2018 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup opener against Morocco at Harare Sports Club on June 16.

This will be Peter de Villiers' first Test in charge of the Sables after his appointment in February this year.

The Sables need to win the Gold Cup in order to seal a ticket to the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.

After finishing the Gold Cup in fifth place last year, the new Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) leadership led by Aaron Jani embarked on an ambitious project of making sure the Sables qualify for their first World Cup since 1991.

Over the years, Zimbabwe has had a number of near misses, hence failing to book a ticket at the global showpiece at the last hurdle.

The Sables Trust led by prominent local lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa mobilised resources to ensure that former coach Cyprian Mandenge is replaced by a renowned international coach in the form of former Springboks gaffer de Villiers.

New sponsors Zerttew Resources, Portnex International, Zimoco and Titan Law all came on board to make sure the needs are catered for.

With all this in place, what is only left is for De Villiers and his players to do the business on the pitch.

“We are just excited that we are now about to start camp ahead of our match against Morocco,” Sables team manager Kisset Chirengende told the Daily News yesterday.

“Some of the guys are coming in on Friday (today) but the rest of guys will be here on Sunday. We are really excited that the guys are coming together this week so we start our preparations.”

The Sables have already held two training camps in recent weeks after they first converged at Falcon College last month before travelling to South Africa where they spent a week at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Tshwane.

“Those camps were really helpful; we had a fruitful time at Falcon and then we went to Pretoria at HPC,” Chirengende said.

“The players really learnt a lot from coach Peter de Villiers and his technical team. It was a real eye opener for the players.”

Speaking with Sables TV earlier this week, de Villiers also praised the valuable time he spent with his squad in South Africa.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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