Zimbabwe rugby team star Tinotenda Blithe Mavesere is set to take another big step in his career at South African rugby union franchise Sharks when he makes his debut in the EPCR Challenge Cup on Saturday.
After featuring for his side primarily in the Currie Cup last year, Mavesere, will make the step up by debuting in the Challenge Cup match against French side Oyonnax at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban.
The Sharks are looking to maintain a strong position in the tournament and Mavesere is one of the few players in line for their first starts in the international competition.
The Durban side is second on Pool 1 while the French team languish at the bottom with no points in the competition to date and this match provides the opportunity for the Hollywoodbets Sharks to not only make their mark, but to deliver a rousing performance in front of the home fans.
Head coach John Plumtree has made just two changes to the starting line-up, both in the forwards where locks Corne’ Rahl and Eben Etzebeth swap jerseys, and loose forward Tino Mavesere replaces the hard-working James Venter who provides cover off the bench.
The Sharks’ backline is unchanged from last week’s side.
There are two further debutants on the bench, with former Griquas wing Eduan Keyter and former Pumas star Diego Appollis both set to get their first runs in an international competition for the Sharks.
For Mavesere its another positive step as he follows up on his solid season last year.
The 24-year-old highly-rated blindside flank endured a long wait for his bow for the Durban-based side after suffering a knee ligament injury soon after joining the club three years ago.
The injury also ruled him out of the Zimbabwe Sables’ unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign.
The Sables star, who is nicknamed “Driller”, is widely regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s brightest prospects in South African rugby.
After his breakthrough campaign during Zimbabwe’s debut season in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in 2019, Mavesere went on to enjoy a memorable season with the University of Western Cape (UWC) in the 2021 Varsity Cup campaign.
His superb exploits saw him being named “Forward that Rocks” at the end of the Varsity Cup season where he also finished as runner up for the overall Player of the Tournament award.
After his brilliant season, Mavesere attracted interest from several teams in South Africa before the Sharks, fended off competition from rival teams to sign him on a two year-deal in January, 2021.