Dawson pleased ahead of World Cup qualifiers

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Brendan Dawson

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO / JUSTIN VUTETE
ZIMBABWE senior rugby team coach Brendan Dawson is pleased with the progress his team has made during their participation in the ongoing Currie Cup First Division as he looks ahead to the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in July.

The 54-year-old is coach of the local team playing in South Africa’s highly-competitive second-tier domestic competition under the name Goshawks.

Although the Goshawks have lost their opening two matches, he says what he has seen from his players during the early stages of the competition gives him confidence that they are on the right path.

“I am pretty happy with where we are,” Dawson told NewsDay Sport after the game against Griffons in Bloemfontein.

“It was a tough game against the Griffons, who are a top-quality side. They are the current leaders on the (Currie Cup First Division) log and they have won the tournament for the last five years in a row, so they are a top-quality outfit and have been together for six months and we have only been together for two weeks. Comparing where we were and where we are now I am really happy. A lot of positives came out from the game, probably a lot more positives than negatives.”

The Goshawks, who have been based in Cape Town since March, kicked off their campaign with a 34-10 loss against the Georgian outfit, Black Lion two weeks ago.

At the weekend, Dawson’s charges squared off against the defending champions and favourites Griffons and received a 48-5 pummelling.

Results, though, are not something Dawson appears to be worried too much about, saying his main focus was trying different combinations in pursuit of the right mix for July’s World Cup qualifiers in France.

“I think the process we are working on is on building for our World Cup qualifiers and I think we are on the right path. The score line (against Griffons) is not a true reflection of where we are. At the moment we are not results-driven, but process-driven and we want to build and make sure that we get better every time we get on to the park,” he said.

Dawson said his charges, who have a bye this weekend, are looking forward to their next Currie Cup assignment, which will be an African derby against Kenya on April 23.

“We still have a lot of work to do going into the next match against Kenya which we will make sure we work on in the next two weeks We are very excited for the Kenyan game,” Dawson said.

Meanwhile, the Junior Sables will be looking to make it two out of two wins when they take on Madagascar at the World Cup qualifiers in Kenya.

Zimbabwe beat Tunisia 19-18 in their last match and know they will have to improve if they are going to come out with another positive result.

Coach Shaun De Souza is expecting a tough encounter against Madagascar.

“Madagascar is now a regular feature in the top four in this tournament so will definitely be a tough opponent. The Madagascar team play is a running sevens style type of game avoiding set pieces as much as possible. The humidity will actually favour them. However, all we need is to find a tune because we are in it to win as well,” said De Souza. “We have had a low ranking in this event. Our primary goal was to improve the rankings. We have ticked the first box so now we focus on getting our processes right so we can achieve the next target. We have gone back to the drawing board, pressed the reset button and now ready to play, the nerves have settled. I believe we are ready to compete for a finals spot.”

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