AFTER a successful playing career spanning over a decade, former Zimbabwe rugby captain Danny Hondo says his experience both as a player and coach will stand him in good stead in his new role as head coach of the national Sevens rugby team.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Hondo, whose career accolades include qualifying for two Sevens Rugby World Cups and winning the British Universities Colleges Cup with Hartpury College, was recently appointed as the Cheetahs coach taking over from Gilbert Nyamutsamba.
“It’s a huge honour to be coaching the national team and I want to thank the nation for giving me this opportunity to try and take them into a better place,” said Danny, whose brother Douglas, played Test cricket for Zimbabwe.
“I’ve gained a bit of experience from playing and that could be an advantage for me and I now have a better understanding of what’s required at the highest level. I’ve also leant a lot from my former coaches Liam [Middleton] and Gilbert [Nyamutsamba],” Hondo said.
Prior to his appointment as Cheetahs coach, Hondo, a strength and conditioning expert had also briefly worked as assistant coach with the Cheetahs.
However his first major coaching role was taking charge of the national Under-18 Sevens rugby team which won a bronze medal at last year’s African Youth Games held in Botswana.
With his first major assignment as Cheetahs coach now less than a month away, the 32-year-old coach has been busy working with a core group of players in preparation for next month’s Hong Kong Sevens.
Zimbabwe will take part in the 12-team line-up in the qualifier set for March 27-29 where the winner will earn core team status for 2015-16 and replace the lowest ranked side at the conclusion of the current series.
“At the moment we have started training at the Innovate High Performance Centre, where we have been doing our conditioning and working on our skills levels. Very soon we are going to have the Summer Sevens Series towards the end of February which will give the players some valuable game time.”
Hondo said despite missing out on core status in the past, he was confident; Zimbabwe had the talent to compete against the top teams on the World Series Sevens circuit.
“I believe we have the talent to compete at the highest level. Our style of play and physique is suitable for Sevens rugby because we are fast, skilful and not that big compared to other nations.
“What we need to work on more is for our players to have a better understanding of Sevens rugby more and I think if we work on that we are definitely going to get better and hopefully secure that core status on the World Series.”
“If you look at the other teams and compare them to us you will see that have the same skills, but were we probably lack is the understanding of the game and how we apply ourselves in different game situations.”
“I think if the players are confident this in themselves when it comes pressure situations and apply themselves how we would have trained we will do well,” Hondo said.