THE unbranded 2014 National Rugby League (NRL) will start tomorrow with archrivals Old Miltonians (OMs) taking on Western Panthers at Hartsfield Rugby Stadium, Harare.
NRL chairman Nody Kanyangarara confirmed the beginning of the league before adding that they were still negotiating with Delta Beverages to come on board and sponsor the league through their Lion Lager brand.
“The league kicks off this weekend. We are still in talks with Delta to come on board. Teams will use last season’s kits because we know most of them cannot afford to buy new playing kits,” he said.
This season nine teams will play in the NRL following the promotion of Mutare Sports Club. Bulawayo teams did not perform well last season and they will be out to stamp their authority this term and aim for top-four finish. Matabeleland Busters finished fourth with OMs finishing fifth while Panthers were sixth.
Coach George Mukorera said despite the fact that most of the senior players were not attending training sessions, they had a number of junior players who could carry the team’s hopes.
“They (senior players) have not been attending practice sessions because of the prize money issue. We, however, have a number of junior players who will carry the team. This time I will also be playing because we do not have enough front row specialists,” he said.
Some of the players that Western Panthers will be looking to get them points include fly-half Busani Ncube, eighth man Silethokuhle “Slater” Ndlovu, prop Dalubuhle Maphosa, flanker Masimba Musiyapinda and captain Kudakwashe Chimukuyu, inside centre.
Mukorera said they also have young Trust Sibindi who will play scrumhalf and flanker Manfred Musendo who will be part of the team.
OMs who have Michael Zvakavapano, Thabani Sakupwanya, Mayibongwe Ndlovu, Nelson Madida, Velile Ndlovu, Lloyd Brown and Essence Ndlovu have retained most of their players.