HomeSportSables test depth against Burkina Faso

Sables test depth against Burkina Faso

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BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

ZIMBABWE will have an opportunity to experiment with the depth in their squad after naming six uncapped players in the Sables starting line-up for the Rugby Africa Cup Pool D encounter against Burkina Faso set for Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare tomorrow.

After the withdrawal of Tunisia due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Sables will play two Test matches against Burkina Faso tomorrow and Wednesday to determine which team finishes top of the group ahead of next year’s knockout stages of the competition.

The winner of next year’s Rugby Africa Cup qualifies for the 2023 Rugby World Cup while the runner-up will have another chance via the Repechage route against fellow runner-ups from the other continental qualifiers.

In a bid to test the depth in the squad ahead of tougher matches next year, the Sables’ technical team has handed Test debuts to six players while resting some seasoned players for the match against the west African minnows.

Burkina Faso, who reached the pool stages after upsetting Cameroon Rugby Africa Cup Repechage in Ouagadougou last month, are ranked a lowly 90th on the World Rugby rankings, way below the Sables who are Africa’s third highest ranked team in 34th position.

New Zealand-based outside centre Brandon Mudzekenyedzi headlines the six players who will earn their Test debuts against the west African minnows after putting on an impressive show in the international friendlies against Zambia last month.

Mudzekenyedzi, a physical presence in midfield as well as an outstanding communicator, will partner uncapped inside centre Marcus Nel, who plays for English fourth tier side Clifton RFC.

The other uncapped player in the backline is 22-year-old flyhalf Keith Chiwara, who plays for University of Fort Hare in South Africa.

The technical team has made some positional changes in the back three with Poland-based Martin Mangongo starting at fullback while Mathew MacNab and Shingi Katsvere start on the wings.

In the forwards, hooker Deanne Makoni, who was part of the Free State Cheetahs’ squad before the COVID-induced lockdown is one of the three debutants together with Harare Sports Club lock David Makamba and England-based number eight Sebastian Roche.

Experienced scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki will captain the side which has a good balance of youth and experience.

Flank Blithe Mavesere will make his first appearance since sealing his big move to South African giants Sharks. The Burkina Faso side arrived in the country yesterday.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso

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