Home » Sports » Sables Leave On Big Mission

A TWO-DAY 36-hour journey is the first hurdle the Sables will have to clear as they travel to Siberia for their one-off make-or-break Rugby World Cup qualifier play-off tie against Russia set for next Saturday. Travelling in batches, the Sables home-based players left the country yesterday led by team manager Brighton Chivandire to meet up with the South Africa-based players at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg before getting a connection flight to Amsterdam.

In Holland, they are expected to link up with the Europe-based players before embarking on their final leg of the trip that will take them to the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk.

The first batch, comprising coach Brendan Dawson, his assistant Cyprian “Supa” Mandenge, physiotherapist Sharon Mkumbudzi and head of delegation Nyararai Sibanda — who is one of the two Zimbabwe Rugby Union vice-presidents — left the country on Thursday.

The Sables are expected in Siberia in the late hours of today and will take a day’s break before getting their first training session underway tomorrow.

ZRU executive vice-president Colleen de Jong and director of rugby Liam Middleton, remained behind but were expected to have joined the team by Thursday next week.

Zimbabwe’s preparations for the World Cup has been marred by a number of challenges, which include financial problems, and the inability to have any intense friendly games prior to departing for Madagascar in June.

The Sables again failed to hold a training camp before travelling to Russia but they will have a five-day period in which to adapt to the local conditions, train and get themselves in shape before taking on the hosts.

Some of the players that Dawson would have loved to travel with are winger Gerald Sibanda and prop Denford Mutamangira but they pulled out citing personal reasons.

Utility forward Njabulo Ndlovu suffered an ankle injury in Madagascar.

“We have had all these challenges but we just have to soldier on. It is every player’s dream to play at the World Cup and we will have to make do with the guys we have upfront, I am sure Piet Joubert will be equal to the task and, with the help of Murray and Kevin, we can have a stable front row.

“At this stage I don’t believe it is about money, but the greatest motivation we have is qualifying for the World Cup itself, nothing beats that if you are a rugby player,” said Dawson.

And this is why the Sables are taking part in this play-off and a win here would see them take on the winner of the other qualifier between Uruguay and Hong Kong on a home and away basis starting at the end of September.

However, there are some worries in the Sables camp that players who were called in as replacements in the changes to the Sables squad for Siberia are not match-fit as they have been inactive owing to the local league that was last played five weeks ago.

The Sables have not been able to get into camp prior to the Russian trip due to financial constrains but are expected to depart for Siberia on Saturday where they will meet from their respective based and hold a five-day training camp.

Lock Jan Ferreira also suffered concussion in Madagascar, while eighthman Takunda Chifokoyo has not played a game since the National Rugby League took a break on June 21.

The league is only expected to resume on August 16.

All the same, Dawson remains optimistic the Sables will conquer.

“We are all on the same page everyone wants to win this game and progress to the next stage of the qualifiers.

“The Russians are big, yes, but they are not quick enough to match especially our mobile backline,” said the former Sables captain.

Daniel Hondo will lead the Sables.

Sables squad

Forwards: Pieter Joubert, Keith Murray, Kevin Nqindi, Jan Ferreira, Graeme Lawler, Jacques Leitao, Lambert Groenewald, Lawrence Cleminson, Sanele Sibanda,

Matthew Mandioma, Farai Mudariki, Fortune Chipendu, Kingsley Lang, Takunda Chifokoyo.

Backs: Daniel Hondo (captain), Hilton Mudariki, Guy Cronje, Stephan Hunduza, Riaan O’Neill, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Peter Du Toit, Lenience Tambwera, Shayne Makombe, Danny Robertson

Coach: Brendan Dawson

Assistant: Cyprian Mandenge

Manager: Brighton Chivandire

Physio: Sharon Mkumbudzi.

Source : The Herald