Zimbabwe rugby union international Tapiwa Mafura is set to stay at South African outfit Pumas this season after being named in the Mpumalanga-based side’s expanded squad of 44 players for the Currie Cup Premier Division which kicks off on January 14.
The 25-year-old explosive fullback has firmly established himself as an integral member of the Pumas side since joining the side from Free State Cheetahs at the start of the 2020-2021 season.
Mafura’s regular position is fullback, but his blistering turn of pace and eye for gap makes him equally at home on the wing or outside-centre.
The South Africa-bred star had an international debut to remember after starring in the Sables nail-biting 24-22 win against Brazil in the opening match of the World Rugby Stellenbosch Challenge in South Africa two months ago.
He was also one of the few bright sparks for the Sables in their humbling 41-10 defeat to neighbours Namibia in the final of the four-team competition which also featured Kenya.
Mafura, who is expected to play a key role in the Sables in the final qualifying round for the 2023 Rugby World Cup which will be played in France in July.
The rising Zimbabwean star will however have an opportunity to prepare for the crucial qualifiers by featuring in the top division of South Africa’s premier domestic competition, which will this season feature seven teams.
The teams competing in the Currie Cup Premier Division are the Bulls, Sharks, Western Province, Lions, Cheetahs, Griquas and Mafura’s Pumas.
Born and bred in Hwange before his family moved to South Africa in 2005, Mafura is a product of the South African rugby system.
He was a star player for the North-West University Pukke in the Varsity Cup before earning a move to the Free State Cheetahs where he made a handful of appearances in South Africa’s premier domestic competition, the Currie Cup, and the Europe-based Pro14.
After spending two seasons in Bloemfontein, Mafura retraced his roots back to Mpumalanga to join the Pumas, where he has been a key member of the team.
The Jimmy Stonehouse-coached Pumas kick-off their Currie Cup campaign with a date against the Bulls.