SABLES coach Peter de Villiers believes that it will be mental strength rather than any differences in tactical application, which will be the deciding factor in Zimbabwe’s must-win 2018 Rugby Gold Cup match against hosts Uganda at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala tomorrow.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN KAMPALA, UGANDA
After failing to register a win in their first four matches, the Sables, who are second from bottom in the standings, desperately need a victory against third-placed Uganda to avoid being relegated to the Silver Cup.
De Villiers, who has watched his charges fail to win matches they ought to have won throughout the campaign, believes mental toughness must feature in the Sables’ armoury if they are to remain in the top-tier of African rugby.
“The great thing about this whole campaign is that we had almost three months now to work together. So this being the last game, we didn’t have to emphasise on doing all the things we have been doing for quite a while. That is actually a plus for us and it allowed me and freed me up to go to the one thing I think we were lacking, which is our mental preparation,” De Villiers said.
The former Springbok coach, who is still searching for his first win with Zimbabwe since taking over as head coach early this year, said the team’s failure to win any of their first four matches was not entirely due to lack of ability.
“If you look at the experience that we have, I thought that these guys, coming from a culture where rugby is number one, they were brought up in a psychological fashion where they can stand up for themselves, but we missed it there and we worked a lot on their heads this week.
“Mental toughness is not something you learn in two or three games. Everybody has pressure, you want to do it for yourself, for your family and then we allow added pressure like playing catch-up … we have the scoreboard against us and those kinds of things. For an inexperienced team it’s a tough call to come back at this stage. Luckily, we are not starting again with guys who are playing their number one Test or their second. We are actually in a space where we can build on the three or four games we played, so we do have that experience,” De Villiers said.
Zimbabwe has made five tactical and injury inspired changes from the side that lost 58-28 to Namibia in Bulawayo a fortnight ago.
In the front row, tighthead Lawrence Cleminson replaces Farai Mudariki, who is unavailable due to club commitments, while Simba Mandioma replaces David Makanda at hooker.
Brian Nyaude, who started at lock against Namibia, comes in at blindside flank ahead of Takudzwa Mandiwanza in a tactical move by De Villiers, which sees Antipas Kamukwindo partnering veteran Fortune Chipendu in the second row.
De Villiers has gone for the halfback pairing of Ernest Mudzengerere at scrumhalf and Lenience Tambwera at flyhalf.
Brendon Mandivenga, who started at flyhalf in the last game, will start at first centre, while Tafadzwa Mhende, who was impressive against the Namibians, moves to second centre, with gasmen Tafadzwa Chitokwindo and Shayne Makombe expected to provide pace down the wings.
Sables: Denford Mutamangira (captain), Matthew Mandiona, Lawrence Cleminson, Antipas Kamkwindo, Fortune Chipendu, Brian Nyaude, Connor Pritchard, Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, Ernest Mudzengerere, Lenience Tambwera, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Brendon Mandivenga, Tafadzwa Mhende, Shayne Makombe, Shingirai Katsvere
Replacements: David Makanda, Cleopas Kundiona, Kudakwashe Nyamufaringwa, Takudzwa Mandiwanza, Jeremiah Jaravaza, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Matthew MacNab