England-based Shingai Chiwanga was the biggest casualty in the final Cheetahs squad that will do duty in the two-day Emirates Airline Dubai World Sevens Series which kicks off on Friday.
The other players who were scratched from the team that left Harare on Sunday are Grant Mitchell, Gerald Sibanda, Japhet Ndebele and Raymond de Jong.
Justin Cole was the surprise inclusion in the squad and the 18 year-old backliner is the youngest player in the squad.
The former St John’s college headboy, who plays for District Dragons in the National Rugby League cemented his place in the team after a splendid performance that helped his team to win the local league title early this month.
Speaking to NewsDay just before their departure at the Harare International airport, manager Bruce Hobson said he had a tough time in coming up with the final squad singling Chiwanga as a major casuality.
“Shingi is a good player but we have many players in that position and unfortunately I had to sacrifice him,” said Hobson.
“He has all the attributes of a good player and he still has age on his side. The same could also be said for all the other players who did not make the final list. They are all good players but unfortunately we had to come up with 12 players only,” added the team manager.
Shingi plays for Shelford Rugby Club in the UK, a club which plays in the country’s national league 2 South. He can play as a fullback, flyhalf or a scrumhalf.
Hobson admitted his team is in a tough group but said he had enough arsenal at his disposal to conquer.
“We will play against very tough teams but we will try our best out there.
We have a good team and our chances of winning are high,” said the confident Hobson.
The Cheetahs are in Pool B and will open their campaign with a big clash against New Zealand before squaring up against USA and Argentina.
Captain Jacques Leitao reiterated his boss’ sentiments saying the team is prepared to do battle.
“We are looking forward to play. All the teams in the tournament are good.
It’s good for the nation to participate in such tournaments,” said the captain.
German-based winger Manasah Sita, who is expected to instill his European experience into the young team, said he is anticipating a big challenge from New Zealand.
Fortune Chipendo, Justin Coles, Jacques Leitao, Graham Kaulback, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Gardner Nechironga, Njabulo Ndlovu, Wesley Mbanje, Manasah Sita, Tangai Nemadire, Jason Graham, Daniel Hondo.