Sables get fitness boost ahead of Quadrangular Series

THE Sables have received a major fitness boost ahead of their Quadrangular Series opener against Brazil on November 14 after all players and management returned negative COVID-19 test results which allows them to start their training camp in South Africa on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s 26-man squad got down to serious business at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa ahead of a warm-up game against South African provincial side Free State Cheetahs to be played in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

After the warm up game, the Sables will return to the Stellenbosch Academy for Sport for the Quadrangular Series tournament, where they will be joined by Brazil, Namibia and Kenya.

Sables team manager Jason Maritz told NewsDay Sport that the players, who flew into South Africa from their respective bases on Monday, were all relishing the opportunity of representing the country.

“Our camp has officially started, everyone has flown in. We have gone through testing for COVID-19 this morning (Tuesday) and I’m pleased to say everyone is negative, which means we have already hit the fields and we are already training,” Maritz said.

“Everyone is in good spirits and there is a positive vibe in camp, the guys are obviously quite hungry to play. We all understand what’s at stake. It’s another opportunity to prepare for next year, but also importantly, it’s Test match rugby.”

Maritz, a former Zimbabwe youth international, believes the upcoming World Rugby-sanctioned tournament will be a good opportunity for the team to improve its global rankings while at the same time preparing for next year’s final phase of qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

“We want to improve our world rankings. We definitely want to put a good show against firstly the Cheetahs in the warm-up game on Saturday, but more importantly in our first match of the Quadrangular Series against Brazil,” he said.

“It’s obviously the first time that we are playing against them (Brazil) and we have done a bit of homework on them and we are now busy with those preparations.”

The Sables, who are ranked 34th in the world, are the third highest ranked team in the tournament below Namibia (25th) and Brazil who are on number 27.

Zimbabwe is ahead of Kenya on the rankings, who are on 35.

The Sables’ clash against South American side Brazil will be the first ever encounter between the two nations.

Kenya and Namibia are scheduled to battle it out in the other semi-final of the Quadrangular Series. The winners of the clashes will face off in the final set for November 20 in Stellenbosch.

Sables coach Brendan Dawson will use the matches in South Africa to get his troops ready for next year’s Rugby Africa Cup final qualifier.

Zimbabwe face Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals and if they win, they might have Namibia waiting for them in the semis if the Namibians do make it past Burkina Faso in the last eight.

Winners of next year’s Rugby Africa Cup to be played in France will secure automatic qualification to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be held in the European country.

Sables Squad

Forwards: Tyron Fagan, Deanne Makoni, Royal Mwale, George Saungweme, Tapiwa Tsomondo, Cleopas Kundiona, Sean Beevor, Biselele Tshamala, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Aiden Burnett, Tonderai Chiwambutsa, Charles Gamhiwa, Lawrence Cleminson, Godwin Mangenje, Victor Mapunga.

Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Dudlee White-Sharpley, Keith Chiwara, Takudzwa Chieza, Darrel Makwasha, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Riaan O’Neill, Brandon Mudzekenyedzi, Shingirai Katsvere, Martin Mangongo, Tapiwa Mafura.

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Publish date : 2021-11-03 22:00:20

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