SA-born stars headline Sables squad

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BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
South Africa-born stars Michael Kumbirai and Jason Fraser headline Zimbabwe’s expanded squad which has been assembled in preparation for the Currie Cup First Division and the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in France.

The Sables technical team yesterday announced an expanded squad of 53 players which is expected to convene in Cape Town on March 21 ahead of the Currie Cup First Division.

Zimbabwe will compete in the Currie Cup First Division as the Goshawks and open their campaign with a tough fixture against Georgia in Cape Town on April 2.

After participating in the Currie Cup, most of the players are expected to be selected in the Nedbank-sponsored Sables squad which will then proceed to France for the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup.

This year’s Rugby Africa Cup will also serve as the final round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers.

Zimbabwe, who are seeking to qualify for their first World Cup since 1991 have cast their net wide in a bid to come up with a formidable squad.

The most notable inclusions in the squad are that of the South African-born pair of Kumbirai and Fraser.

The highly-rated were born and raised in South Africa but qualify to represent the Sables through their parents.

Pretoria-born Kumbirai rose through the ranks at the Blue Bulls before representing top South African rugby franchises Sharks and Stormers.

The highly-rated tight head prop is currently on the books of Pro D2 side Soyaux Angoulême XV Charente after joining the club late last year.

He is expected to team up in the Sables with 30-year-old Fraser, who was born in Amanzimtoti, a coastal town just south of Durban to Zimbabwean parents.

The experienced backrow forward who can play flanker or number eight, played for Griquas and Pumas in the Currie Cup before sealing the move to USON Nevers in 2017. Fraser is club teammates with Sables prop Farai Mudariki, who is also set to make a return to the national team.

Apart from the France-based pair, the other new call-up to the Sables is the Scotland-born New Zealand-born flank Mason Mungo and the exciting Hong Kong-based number eight Nyasha Tarusenga.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe welcomes back 25-year-old openside flank Connor Pritchard, who has not played Test rugby for the Sables since 2018 due to club commitments and COVID-19 travel restrictions in Australia, where he plays for the Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship.

Also making a comeback to the side is towering lock Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, who has been doing well in Poland.

Sables head coach Brendan Dawson said he is happy with the squad they’ve assembled for the Currie Cup but hinted they’d be further reinforcement ahead of the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

“I’m very happy with the squad we have picked. I think we’ve got a lot of youth and experience in there and it looks pretty well balanced. Obviously going into Currie Cup it’s going to be a test for a lot of the youngsters that are in the squad and are going to play for the Goshawks for the first time,” Dawson said.

He added: “Obviously there are some guys who have not made the squad due to commitments elsewhere . . . but at the end of the day we are happy with what weve got and we will go forward. We are looking to use the Currie Cup as a building platform for the future and for the World Cup qualifiers. We are going to use some of these players as good back up for some of the foreign based players that will come later.”

Squad

Forwards: Farai Mudariki, Cleopas Kundiona, Gabriel Sipapate, Dough Juszczyk, Bornwell Gwinji, Victor Mapunga, Dean Makoni, Michael Kumbirai, Demos Mbauya, Panashe Rukodzi, Tyran Fagan, Aaron Juma, Mathew Mandioma, Declan Ralphs, David Makamba, Godwin Mangenje, Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, George Saungweme, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Sean Beevor, Tonderai Chiwambutsa, Johan Stander, Biselele Tshamala, Mason Mungo, Aiden Burnett, Sebastian Burnett, Nyasha Tarusenga, Kelvin Kanenungo, Blithe Mavesere, Connor Pritchard, Jason Fraser, Tapiwa Tsomondo

Backs: Hilton Mudariki, Kyle Galloway, Keith Chiwara, Brendon Curle, Boyd Rouse, Takudzwa Chieza, Marcus Nel, Ngoni Chibuwe, Russel Dinha, Riaan O’Neill, Darrel Makwasha, Shayne Makombe, Matthew McNab, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Brandon Mudzekenyedzi, Munashe Chaitezwi, Tapiwa Mafura, Daniel Capsopolous, Brendon Mandivenga, Tawanda Matipano, Connor Kennedy

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