SABLES skipper Costa Dinha has tipped new players drafted in the flagship rugby side to make an impression at Emirates Airline Cup of Nations which kicks off on Saturday in Dubai. The Zimbabwe rugby side left the country for the United Arab Emirates last night.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO SPORTS REPORTER
They will go into the four-nation tournament with eight uncapped players in the absence of several key players in South Africa with the Zimbabwe Sevens team for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens which also kicks off on Saturday.
Dinha, by far the most experienced player in the side, believes this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
“We would obviously have wanted to have the Sevens players in the side, but we just have to accept that we might not have them around until their campaign at the Sevens World Cup campaign in June next year,” said the veteran lock.
“It’s good that we have new players coming in the side at this stage so that we build the necessary depth to compete against top teams. We have been training with six of the eight new players in camp, while we will link up with the other two players in Dubai. They are all very good players and I’m confident that they will deliver. Hopefully some of them will take the opportunity with both hands and try to stake a claim in the side,” Dinha told NewsDay Sport yesterday.
The new faces in the side include the United Kingdom-based duo of utility back Tommy Nelson and prop Nick Winwood, the South Africa-based trio of hooker Keith Murray, back John McWade and flank Tonderai Chigumbura. Old Georgians front row Simba Musarurwa, Harare Sports Club utility back Steven Hunduza and back Graham Kulback complete the list of the uncapped players.
Dinha said the team’s forwards pack was much stronger than the one they travelled with to Namibia last month.
“I believe we have a much stronger pack than the one we had in Namibia. I think it’s going to be a crucial department against the better conditioned teams like Hong Kong and Belgium. Our backline combination, although quite new, is also very strong and will surprise a lot of people,” added Dinha.
The Sables open their campaign with a match against Hong Kong on Saturday before playing Belgium next Tuesday in their second match. They round up their tour against hosts United Arab Emirates next Friday.