SABLES coach Brendan Dawson says the door remains open for the team’s senior players who were left out of selection for the recent Madagascar rugby tour following a last-minute complaint and petition against the team’s management.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Dawson’s remarks came after he was forced to travel with a depleted squad to Madagascar which was missing several key players such as Costa Dinha, Cleopas Makotose, Gardner Nechironga, and Tangai Nemadire, among others.
Although Zimbabwe failed to defend their African title after losing to Kenya in the final, they still managed to stay in contention for a 2015 World Cup place courtesy of a 38-18 win over the hosts in the semi-finals.
The former Sables captain said the so-called “rebel players” still had a role to play in next year’s CAR Division 1A championship where the winner will automatically qualify for the World Cup.
“The door is still open for the guys to return to the side as long as they want to get back to business and are apologetic about their actions,” Dawson said.
“We are now at a very crucial stage of the qualifying process where we need to be united towards working at achieving a common goal. That’s why I believe they still have a role to play in the side just like any new players plying their trade out there who feel they’re good enough to play for the national side and are willing to prove themselves. Everyone will be given an equal chance to prove that they are worthy of making the side.”
Dawson, who was part of the last Zimbabwe side to play at the World Cup in 1991, said better conditioning programmes were key for the Sables side ahead of next year’s qualifiers, saying the Sables players need to get “physically stronger” .
“We definitely need to relook how we approach next year’s tournament. For starters, we need to get physically stronger which means we need to put in place more efficient conditioning programmes. This will, however, require local sponsors to come on board to assist and make sure that team gets adequate preparations,” he said.
Dawson’s remarks on the importance of adequate preparations come after Kenya showed how important it is to be thoroughly prepared in the countdown to the tournament.
The East Africans reaped the benefits of better support from their corporate world which saw them embarking on a strength and conditioning programme while also receiving tactical assistance of the South African Western Province franchise.
While Zimbabwe were forced to cancel their tour of South Africa, the Kenyans had a 10-day training camp with the Western Province franchise in Cape Town prior to the Madagascar tour.
In April, former Springboks head coach Peter de Villiers also conducted a week-long high-performance training camp with the Kenyan team in a deal sponsored be the East African side.