De Villiers tells Zimbabwe to prepare for war against Morocco

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Nick Said, KweséESPN

ZIMBABWE coach Peter de Villiers has called for self-belief from his Zimbabwe side as they prepare “for war” in their Rugby Africa Gold Cup opener at home to Morocco in Harare on Saturday.

Zimbabwe are seeking a first Rugby World Cup appearance since 1991 and have what looks on paper a gentle start against the North Africans, who only earned their Gold Cup status this year.

All matches in this year’s Gold Cup are available on Kwesé Sports 1.

De Villiers, who led South Africa to an unlucky Rugby World Cup quarterfinal loss to Australia in 2011, says his side will be ready to mount their challenge for a place in the 2019 tournament in Japan.

“At this moment we are prepared to go play tomorrow but still need these two days going forward to get ourselves ready for all the onslaughts that can come from any part of our opponents,” De Villiers told reporters.

“I’ve been supported greatly by the union. I can say the players too have been treated professionally. We have brought a new dimension to Zim Rugby and everybody has bought into it.”

But he adds that the best laid plans will mean nothing if the players do not execute on the pitch at Harare Sports Club come Saturday.

“Self-belief is the most important thing. I never selected any one of the players that are here, they selected themselves,” De Villiers said.

“They showed that they have it. Most of them have the pedigree, they’ve played for Zimbabwe in age group levels, and some of them have played for the Zim already at national level.

“The one thing that we brought into their minds is that we’re not playing just another game, this is a Test, and this is war, it’s country against country.

“Again the time the union has given me with the players, I’m very grateful. We took them out of club rugby to prepare them as a team for almost a month now, so the spirit is high, they live for and care for each other and we are all looking forward for Saturday.”

Only the top side in the six-team Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition is guaranteed a place in next year’s World Cup in Japan, with Zimbabwe among the favourites along with Namibia and Kenya.