THE national sevens rugby side, the Cheetahs, have lined up preparatory matches against World Sevens Series core teams USA and Fiji in a bid to fine-tune their preparations before starting their campaign in HSBC Sevens World Series core team qualifiers in Hong Kong from Friday to Sunday.
Former Cheetahs star Daniel Hondo, who is with the team in Hong Kong, said the national sevens side would face USA today before playing the recently crowned Tokyo Sevens champions Fiji tomorrow.
“The team had a safe trip and a good stretch when we arrived and we are now just building up to the tournament,” Hondo, who is now assisting head coach Liam Middleton, said.
“The boys will get some game time before the actual tournament when we play USA on Wednesday in our first pre-match game before we play the Tokyo champions Fiji.”
Hondo, a stalwart with the Cheetahs side before he retired last year, said he was particularly pleased that they would be playing a top side like Fiji as this would give them a chance to work on their defence.
“We are all excited with what’s coming ahead,” Hondo said.
“We’ve got young exciting players who can’t wait to perform at the world stage during the weekend.
“The two practice games will surely be a plus for us.
“For instance, playing against Fiji will also help in our defensive structures as they are a very skilful side. Game time is always good before tournaments.”
The Cheetahs will do battle with Russia, Chile and Barbados in the Pool stages of the HSBC Sevens World Series core team qualifiers which will be held concurrently with the main Hong Kong Sevens.
The winner of the 12-team qualifying competition will replace the bottom-ranked of the 15 current core teams after the last round of the 2013/14 HSBC World Sevens Series to be held in London on May 10-11.
Zimbabwe, Russia and Japan have been touted as the main contenders along with Hong Kong for the World Series qualifier.
Other teams that will be vying for promotion are Chile, Barbados, Italy, Tunisia, American Samoa, Japan, Cook Islands, Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago.
Cheetahs Squad: J Leitao (Captain), F Chipendu, T Chitokwindo, S Hunduza, K Magunje, H Mudariki, G Nechironga, N Ndlovu, B Nicholls, B Rouse, L Tambwera, B Tshamala
Hong Kong Sevens Draw:
Pool E: Russia, Zimbabwe, Chile, Barbados
Pool F: Hong Kong, Italy, Tunisia, American Samoa
Pool G: Japan, Cook Islands, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago