Dawson relishes tough SuperSport Challenge debut

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE Rugby Academy coach, Brendan Dawson is expecting a tough test when his side makes its debut in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, with a date against Border Bulldogs at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in East London on Sunday.

The clash against Border Bulldogs, will be the first of seven tough matches, that the Zimbabwe side will play against South African provincial sides in their first appearance in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

After announcing his squad of 22 for the opening match, Dawson said he was aware that his charges were facing a tough task against their better prepared opponents after only starting camp early this week.

“Being our first game, there will be a lot of teething problems. Teething issues that might come out – which we have to iron out and get right. We have only been together for five days and this is going to be a hard one. Our guys have come from all over the world and parts of Africa into camp,” Dawson said ahead of the match.

“Preparations have been a bit tight and we have got to understand that we can’t kill the guys who are playing. So time on the paddock has been spent really well and we have been trying to get patterns and everything together.

“Yes it is going to be tough and the guys are really excited to get out there to show their flare and skills in there.”

The Border Bulldogs, who are making a return to the SuperSport Challenge, are expected to provide the Zimbabwe Rugby Academy a tough test due to their attacking brand of running rugby.

Dawson however revealed that they had a plan to counter that the East London-based side’s flair and speed.

“We have got our defense pattern, that we are going to stick to and we want to deprive them of the ball. We want to be in control of the ball movement through our defense – we want to keep the ball when we have it and when they have it we want to regain the ball as quickly as possible,” Dawson said.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Academy side which is made up of national sevens players, Zimbabwe Sables players, youth players and about 12 Cape Town-based Zimbabwean players will be quietly confident of causing a few upsets in their maiden appearance at the tournament.

Some of the notable selections include that of speeds merchant Kudakwashe Chiwanza at full-back instead of the usual wing position while rising star Shingirai Katsvere has been moved to centre from full-back position.

“Both these players are from the Sevens circuit and Kudakwashe Chiwanza is a hell of an exciting rugby player, he loves a bit of space and loves a bit of room on the outside. He (Chiwanza) has incredible pace and skill.

“I also want us to the run the ball a bit quicker and be able to be confident to run in positions where people do not expect us to. Chiwanza brings that ball with his skills, will be good for us and put us back on the front foot. Shingirai Katsvere is a great player, he has put on some size and he is in good condition as one of our stars in sevens.

“Playing him (Katsvere) as our outside centre is a real blessing because he has good defense and great in attack – he has got good footwork so he can get on the outside and I am very confident that he will be able to do that for us,” said Dawson.

Zimbabwe Rugby Academy Starting lineup (1-15)

  1. Wade Petzer 2. Royal Mwale 3. Cleopas Kundiona 4. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa 5. Jan Ferreira 6. Jordon Coombes 7. Brian Nyaude 8. Aiden Burnett 9. Kuzi Kazembe, 10. Brendon Mandivenga 11. Matthew McNab 12. Riaan O’Neil 13. Shingirai Katsvere 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 15. Kudakwashe Chiwanza

Replacement: Tinashe Chaza, Tyron Fagan, Godwin Mangenje, Godfrey Muzanargwo, Njabulo Ndlovu, Jeremiah Jaravaza, Kudzai Mashawi.