Zimbabwe Goshawks assemble new-look squad for Mzansi Challenge

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Hilton Mudariki will lead the Zimbabwe Goshawks in the Mzansi Challenge

Harare – After weeks of uncertainty over their Currie Cup First Division participation, Zimbabwe’s development side, the Goshawks have finally announced a new-look 40-man provisional squad ahead of their competition opener against Namibia at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Zimbabwe’s participation in South Africa’s domestic competition, which is now also known as the Mzansi Challenge was uncertain following the cancellation of their opening three matches in South Africa.

The Goshawks were scheduled to face Leopards (Saturday, March 25), Eastern Province (April 1) and Boland Cavaliers (April 8) in the opening salvoes of the tournament.

The Brendan Dawson-coached side were however forced his team to pull out of the first three rounds of the competition due to a lack of finances. Participating teams are required to cover all their related costs.

After forfeiting the first three matches, the Goshawks, who are missing the bulk of players who were in last year’s squad, will be hoping for a positive start to their campaign when they face off against their regional rivals Namibia, who are playing as the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias

Sables captain, Hilton Mudariki will captain the Zimbabwe select side, which is dominated by uncapped players and a handful of experienced players.

The 31-year-old scrumhalf is one of only four players with previous Currie Cup or international experience along with loose forwards Aiden Burnet and Tonderai Chiwambutsa as well as backs Takudzwa Musingwini and Russel Dinha.

While the squad is dominated by new faces, there are also a couple of old horses with tight-head prop Kevin Nqindi and hooker marking a return to the Zimbabwe fold after a lengthy absence.

Nqindi last featured for the Sables in 2015 while Makamure last played for Zimbabwe two years later. The duo are expected to provide the much-needed experience to a virtually new look forwards pack.

Zimbabwe Goshawks team manager Takunda “TJ” Chifokoyo

Goshawks team manager Takunda “TJ” Chifokoyo said they are excited by the dedication and commitment displayed by the players in the new-look side ahead of the start of their campaign.

“We are excited about the group of players we have been working with over the last couple of months. The dedication they have shown to the gym regimen as well as their commitment to practice under challenging circumstances has been nothing short of brilliant,” Chifokoyo said.

The former Sables number eight, who took over as team manager from Jason Maritz said they are relishing the challenge against the Namibians, who are using the Mzansi Challenge to prepare some of their players for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

“We embrace the challenge that the Namibian team brings and the boys know it’s going to be both a mental and physical test of their readiness to compete at this level. The tournament gives Coach Dawson a great platform to showcase some new talent and to continue to broaden our pool of players as the focus has been on developing a competitive squad. We look forward to Zimbabweans coming out in numbers to support this young, hungry team. The future of Zimbabwe rugby is certainly looking bright as we start our Mzansi Challenge campaign,” he said.

While Zimbabwe will be playing their first match in this season’s Mzansi Challenge, Namibia’s Windhoek Draught Welwitschias have already played times and lost all their matches against Border Bulldogs (26-21), SWD Eagles (31-22)and Valke (48-24).

Goshawks Provisional Squad

Forwards: Aiden Burnett, Alvin Magwaza, Arron Juma, Brian Makamure, Dave Makamba, Gideon Maseka, Innocent Chimcheka, Kevin Nqidi, Macdonald Kazingizi, Marlon Guwuriro, Niel Mawere, Patrick Macklin, Scottie Patson, Simba Siraha, Tadiwa Gwashu, Tadiwa Kainga, Tapiwa Muberekwa, Tawanda Mudyiwa, Tomuvonga Msasanure, Tonderai Chiwambutswa, Vuyiswa Mpofu, Zviko Chimoto

Backs: Tatenda Maunga, Benjamin Pattenden, Calvin Mukoyi, Cletos Sund uza, Darrell Makwasha Gamu Nekato, Kenneth Murefu, Hilton Mudariki (Captain), Leon Musichillli, Leonard Takavengwa, MacLean Muhambi, Martin Mangongo, Ngonidzashe Mazarura, Pride Nyameni, Russell Dhina, Takudzwa Musingwini, Tamuka Pamire, Tino Chipfumba

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