Sables cast net wide ahead of Currie Cup, World Cup qualifiers

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Michael Kumbirai

Sables head coach Brendan Dawson and his technical team have cast their net wide by including several uncapped players plying their trade around the world in their expanded 53-man squad for next month’s Currie Cup First Division and the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifier to be played in France in July.

Zimbabwe will compete in the Currie Cup First Division which begins on April 1 as the Goshawks before proceeding 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.

In a bid to come up with a formidable squad, Zimbabwe, who are seeking to qualify for their first World Cup since 1991 bolstered their squad with several new players.

 

Headlining the list of new faces are the South Africa-born pair of Michael Kumbirai and Jason Fraser, who both play in the French second tier competition, the ProD2.

Kumbirai was born in Pretoria to Zimbabwean parents Joyce (a retired business excecutive) and Peter (a successful orthopedic surgeon) and starred for Sharks and Stormers in South Africa between 2015 and 2021.

The 25-year-old tighthead prop is now playing professional rugby in France for Pro D2 side Soyaux Angoulême XV Charente.

Kumbirai plays in the same competition with 30 year-old backrow forward Fraser, who traces his roots to Zimbabwe despite being born in Durban.

Fraser had an almost similar career path as he played for Griquas and Pumas in the Currie Cup before joining USON Nevers in 2017, where he is now teammates with Sables prop Farai Mudariki.

In fact Zimbabwe is expected to have three players from USON Nevers in their World Cup qualifying squad after Cleopas Kundiona recently completed a move to the French club ahead of next season.

Apart from the France-based pair, the other notable new call-up to the Sables squad is that of former Varsity Cup maestro Nyasha Tarusenga, twice a winner of the World University Rugby Cup with the University of Cape Town.

The now Hong Kong based star is an explosive eighth man who makes big impact on attack and defence.

Scotland-born loose forward Mason Mungo, who plays for Old Glory DC in Major League Rugby is set to finally realise his dream of playing for the country’s of his father’s birth after his scheduled debut last year delayed due by the World Rugby eligibility rules.

Sables head coach Brendan Dawson said of the squad:  “Im 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 and in the competition for the first time.

Dawson, who was part of the last Zimbabwean squad to feature at the World Cup in 1991 said he expects more inclusions into the squad ahead of the qualifiers in France.

“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.”

The Squad:

Forwards: Farai Mudariki, Cleopas Kundiona, Gabriel Sipapate, Doug Juszczyk, Bornwell Gwinji, Victor Mupunga, 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, Mungo Mason, Aiden Burnett, Sebastian Roche, 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, Russell Dinha, Riaan O’neill, Darrel Makwasha, Shayne Makombe, Mathew McNab, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Brandon Mudzekenyedzi, Munashe Chaitezvi, Tapiwa Mafura, Daniel Capsopoulos, Brendon Mandivenga, Tawanda Matipano, Connor Kennedy

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