BRISTOL — When Bristol’s play-off campaign is done and dusted, Marco Mama will be keeping an eye out to see how Zimbabwe fare in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The 23-year-old back-rower — one of Bristol’s standout performers this season — qualifies to play international rugby for Zimbabwe, England and Nigeria. And he said that pursuing an international career with Zimbabwe ahead of next year’s World Cup “would be a conversation I would have to have” if the opportunity arose.
“At the moment, Zimbabwe are hoping to qualify for the World Cup, which would be a massive step for them,” Mama said.
“It would be a conversation I would have to have if the opportunity came up — it’s not something I’m really looking at the moment. My focus is here at Bristol.
“You worry about internationals when you are playing some good rugby here.”
Zimbabwe will face Madagascar, Namibia and Kenya at Stade Mahamasina in Madagascar between June 28 and July 6 — with the leaders of the round-robin competition qualifying for the World Cup, and the runners-up entering the repechage.
While Bristol would not stand in Mama’s way if he earned a call-up for those qualifiers, the player is yet to hear from Zimbabwe — who have not qualified for a World Cup since 1991 — about the possibility of featuring.
Former Bristol head coach Liam Middleton — a key influence during the early part of Mama’s professional career — is Zimbabwe’s director of rugby.
“It’s the good man Liam who is heading it all up back in Zimbabwe – and I think he has been doing some good things. They are looking strong for the World Cup qualifiers,” Mama said.
“The big competition is Namibia, who are a very physical side. They can call upon a couple of very good players when they need to, including Jacques Burger from Saracens. It will be a tough one – it will be one hell of a game – and a massive one if they win.
“Zimbabwe haven’t been to the World Cup for a long time, but if they were to get there it would be a massive achievement for the country.”
– The Bristol Post