Captain Denford rallies Sables

HARARE - Sables captain Denford Mutamangira believes Zimbabwe have a good chance of winning the 2018 rugby Afrique Gold Cup and qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan.

The Sables kick-off their 2018 Gold Cup campaign with a home tie against the unknown quantity in Morocco at Harare Sports Club this afternoon.

Kick-off is at 1:30pm.  

Today’s match also heralds a new era for local rugby since it will be coach Peter de Villiers’ first test in charge of Zimbabwe.

The former Springboks coach was thrust into the hot seat in February to replace Cyprian Mandenge, who had presided over the Sables’ disastrous 2017 Gold Cup campaign in which they finished in fifth place in the six-team division.

Speaking at a press conference just before the captain’s run yesterday in the capital, Mutamangira hailed the team’s build-up towards today’s games.    

“We are prepared, we have come a long way; we have been working very hard and we have managed to play a couple of warm-up games which showed us where we are at the moment,” the Harare Sports Club loosehead prop.

“What I can confidently say is that we are ready to play against Morocco. We have got PDV and he has brought in a new system, we have always cried about poor preparations in the past and this year we started early.

“We have been working on our patterns for the past three to four months and we have managed to get some game time; the match fitness is there compared to our previous campaigns where we had no match fitness whatsoever and just went out there to play.”

Following last year’s disappointment, Mutamangira believes the Sables have turned a new corner especially after a new Zimbabwe Rugby Union board and de Villiers came into place.

“It’s a discussion that we have had among ourselves as players, we said ‘guys we know we can do better and we know what we are capable of’,” he said.

“Last year for some reason, I think we lacked preparation but this time we have had enough preparation to go and do our job.”

Sables scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki concurred with his captain that there is a new team culture in the squad.   

“This is a new dispensation and it’s a new era so we expect new things,” Mudariki said.

“I think it’s just a new start with a new coach that has brought in different ideas. We have been treated as professionals, which never really happened in the past so the boys have enjoyed that.

“We have had training camps and we have gone away and as Denford said, we had warm up games as well which has happened in my time as a Sable. Doing things like that will put us in good stead against Morocco.”    

Sables Starting XV: 15. Shingi Katsvere, 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro, 13. Kudzai Mashawi, 12.Brendon Mandivenga, 11. Matthew McNab, 10. Lenience Tambwera, 9. Hilton Mudariki, 8. Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, 7. Connor Pritchard, 6. Takudzwa Mandiwanza, 5. Fortune Chipendu, 4. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, 3. Farai Mudariki, 2. David Makanda, Denford Mutamangira

Replacements: 16. Mathew Mandioma, 17. Gabriel Sipapate, 18. Lawrence Cleminson, 19. Brian Nyaude, 20. Njabulo Ndlovu, 21. Peter du Toit, 22. Ngoni Chibuwe, 23. Dylan BaptistaMutamangira rallies Sables

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