The Zimbabwe Goshawks have bolstered their backline ahead of their Currie Cup First Division tie against Leopards at City Park Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
Following the team’s disappointing 48-0 defeat on the road against SWD Eagles last Friday, head coach Brendan Dawson has opted to bring two experienced international players into his run-on side.
Spain-based versatile backline player Shingi Katsevere and centre Matthew McNab, who is on the books of English Championship side Hartpury RFC will both start at left-wing and outside centre respectively.
The two are among the several changes to the Goshawks’ matchday squad for the tie against Leopards, who are one place behind the seventh-placed Zimbabwean outfit on the 10-team Currie Cup first division log after the opening six rounds of matches.
Katsvere, who recently inspired the Cheetahs to qualification for the Rugby World Cup Sevens will start at left-wing, joining a potent back three which features youthful fullback Tawanda Matipano and right-winger Shayne Makombe.
McNab will partner inside centre Marcus Nel in midfield while Kyle Galloway starts at scrumhalf ahead of captain Hilton Mudariki, who has been rested for this week’s encounter.
Upfront loose head prop Victor Mupunga and tighthead Bornwell Gwinji seem to have nailed their places in Zimbabwe’s squad for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers as they will start again against Leopards.
Hooker Matthew Mandioma makes way for with ex-SACS Rugby starlet Liam Larkan while Sean Beevor, who started at flank last week returns to his usual position in the second row to partner Goodwin Mangenje.
After missing last week’s match with a shoulder injury Johan Du Preez returns to start at openside flanks with blindside flank Kelvin Kanenungo and number eight Aiden Burnett completing the loose trio.
A tightly contested encounter is expected at City Park Stadium between two teams, who on paper appear evenly matched.
Zimbabwe are in seventh spot on the Currie Cup First Division log, while their opponents, Leopards, are one rung below.
Both teams, however, have 12 points from six matches going into this weekend’s round of games.
The Kenya Simbas and the winless Border Bulldogs round up the table as they currently lie ninth and tenth, respectively.
At the summit, the Down Touch Griffons, Eastern Province and Valke make up the top-three teams of the competition and currently have 35, 26 and 22 points in that order.
Goshawks matchday squad
Starting line-up (1-15) – Victor Mapunga, Liam Larkan, Bornwell Gwinji, Sean Beevor, Kelvin Kanenungo, Johan Du Preez, Aiden Burnett, Kyle Galloway, Taku Musingwini, Shingi Katsvere, Marcus Nel, Matthew McNab, Shayne Makombe, Tawanda Matipano
Replacements: Matthew Mandioma, Gabriel Sipapate, Tyran Fagan, George Saungweme, Biselele Tshamala, Carlos Matematema, Brendon Marume, Godfrey Munzanargwo