Zimbabwe Goshawks head coach Brendan Dawson has gone for a blend of youth and experience in his matchday 23 squad ahead of his team’s opening Carling Currie Cup First Division tie against the Georgian outfit Black Lions on Saturday.
The highly anticipated match which is part of the Nedbank Zimbabwe-sponsored Sables’ preparations for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers will be played at Villagers Rugby Club kicks off at 2pm.
Skipper Hilton Mudariki will spearhead the new look team which features other experienced players such as hooker Matthew Mandioma, flank Biselele Tshamala and centre Takudzwa Chieza in the backline.
The absence of some of their high-profile foreign-based players due to contractual obligations with their clubs is set to provide an opportunity for some players to stake a claim for a place in the Sables squad ahead of the qualifiers.
2️⃣ More Sleeps | Goshawks 🤝 Black Lions
The boys are ready to start their journey in @TheCurrieCup
Who are you looking forward to seeing making some big hits?#ZimRugby#FreshStart pic.twitter.com/gEh0QEc8T4
— Zimbabwe Sables 🇿🇼 (@SablesRugbyZW) March 31, 2022
Among the new faces in the squad is the highly rated former Sharks lock Andrew Evans, who recently committed to playing for the Sables in the World Cup qualifiers.
The 24 year-old will partner Kudakwashe Nyakufarigwa in the second row.
Poland-based Nyakufaringwa will making his first appearance in national colours after a four-year absence.
Another new inclusion is flyhalf Boyd Rouse, who will make a return in the fifteens format having mostly played for the national sevens rugby team, the Cheetahs over the last few years,
Rouse’s halfback combination with former Cheetahs’ teammate, scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki will be crucial as the Goshawks will look to outrun and outsmart their physical opponents with their speedy backs.
Other notable new call-ups in the backline are fullback Connor Kennedy and winger Munashe Chaitezi and centre Russell Dinha.
Kennedy has previously played international Sevens rugby for the United Arab Emirates, where he lives and plays for Dubai Exiles while Dinha is the nephew of former Sables captain Costa Dinha.
Gifted with raw pace and skill, young Dinha himself an ex-national Under-20 skipper will back himself up to force his way into the team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe under-20 starlet Brendon Marume has been named amongst the replacements after recently forcing his way into the Goshawks plans following his impressive performances in the Nedbank Rugby Challenge Cup.
Marume will be released for the Young Sables’ Under-20 Barthes Trophy campaign in Kenya after the first Currie Cup First Division match.
Goshawks matchday squad
Starting XV: 1 Victor Mupunga, 2. Matthew Mandioma, 3. Bornwell Gwinji, 4. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, 5. Andrew Evans, 6. Biselele Tshamala, 7. Tonderai Chiwambutsa, 8. Aiden Burnett, 9. Hilton Mudariki, 10. Boyd Rouse, 11. Munashe Chaitezwi, 12. Takudzwa Chieza, 13. Russell Dinha, 14. Darrel Makwasha, 15. Connor Kennedy
Replacements: 16. Aaron Juma, 17. Deanne Makoni, 18. Panashe Rukodzi, 19. Godwin Mangenje, 20. Dylan Utete, 21. Ernest Mudzengerere, 22. Brendon Marume, 23. Tawanda Matipano