Cheetahs coach to test new combinations in PE

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ZIMBABWE Sevens rugby team coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba says he will look to give his new players an extended run during the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth(PE), South Africa, this weekend.

DANIEL NHAKANISO
Sports REPORTER

The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, which is the third leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, will be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Zimbabwe will battle it out in Pool B with Dubai Sevens runners-up Australia, Argentina and Portugal.

Nyamutsamba made two changes to the squad from the 12-member squad which finished third at the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Africa Cup Sevens at Prince Edward High School, Harare, two weeks ago.

Livewire scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki and speedster Kudakwashe Chiwanza were added to the squad which left for South Africa yesterday while Graham Kaulback and Rian O’Neil were dropped.

Cheetahs-coach-Gilbert-Nyamutsamba
Cheetahs-coach-Gilbert-Nyamutsamba

There were still no places for the South African flyhalf Lenience Tambwera and versatile forward Biselele Tshamala who are still sidelined with injuries.

Mudariki, who recently joined University of Johannesburg ahead of the 2015 Varsity Cup has previously featured for the Cheetahs while Old Georgians’ Chiwanza will be making his first appearance for the national Sevens side on the World Series.

The youthful pair is expected to provide the much needed new blood in the ageing squad which is dominated by veterans such as skipper Jacques Leitao, Fortune Chipendu, Gardner Nechironga and Wensley Mbanje.

In an interview with sister paper NewsDaySport just before his team’s departure for South Africa yesterday, Nyamutsamba said he was hoping to give the new players more game time to prepare them for next year’s Hong Kong Sevens.

“As you know the CAR Africa Cup Sevens was our first competitive tournament since March, so we are hoping to be more competitive this time as we look to build some momentum ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens.”

“We have made two changes to the squad with Hilton Mudariki and Kuda Chiwanza coming into the squad. The explosive pair will add the much needed pace into the side and we will be looking to give them and the other new faces in the side more game time so that they know what to expect when we get to Hong Kong,” he said.

While admitting that his charges faced a tough challenge against Australia, Argentina and Portugal, Nyamutsamba said the competition would serve them well ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens.

“There are no easy draws on the (HSBC Sevens) World Series and we always knew we would be up against the top teams. In fact, we will be relishing the opportunity of playing against the top teams as we look to build a competitive side for Hong Kong,” he said.

The Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens will be the Cheetahs’ only appearance on the HSBC Sevens World Series before the Hong Kong Sevens in March next year where they will be eyeing core team status on the lucrative circuit.

Zimbabwe will be hoping to do better in Port Elizabeth after failing to register a single win at the same tournament last year through defeats to Argentina (31-5), England (35-7) and Samoa (43-0) and Australia (38-5).

Zimbabwe Cheetahs squad: Jacques Leitao (captain), Fortune Chipendu, Gardner Nechironga, Stephan Hunduza, Hilton Mudariki, Njabulo Ndlovu, Boyd Rouse, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Shayne Makombe, Wensley Mbanje, Kilvan Magunje.

Head coach: Gilbert Nyamutsamba

Assistant coach: Daniel Hondo

Team manager: Steve McDonald