Home » Sports » Tsomondo Back in Cheetahs Squad

WESTERN PROVINCE forward Tapiwa Tsomondo has bounced back into the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby squad that is preparing for the Hong Kong leg of the World Series after a lengthy 15-month absence. The destructive flanker is expected to join the rest of the Cheetahs squad in his adopted home of Cape Town, South Africa, where the Zimbabwe side will camp for five days together with the South Africa Sevens side — the Blitzbokke.

Tsomondo who last played for the Cheetahs in December 2013 in Port Elizabeth had been overlooked for selection ever since he fell out with the local rugby authorities following a club versus country dispute.

The former Zimbabwe youth international and Old Hararians forward will now get a chance to claim his place back in the squad when they camp in Cape Town. Flyhalf Lenience Tambwera and forward Biselele Tshamala have also been included in the training squad having last played for the Cheetahs exactly a year ago at the Hong Kong core membership qualifiers — the same tournament they will take part in on March 27.

Seven other players — back liners Stephan Hunduza, Kilvan Magunje, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, forwards Fortunate Chipendu, captain Jacques Leitao, and Boyd Rouse — who were part of the side that travelled to Asia last year and also played in Port Elizabeth at the end of 2014 have also been included.

Scrummy Graham Kaulback and winger Kudakwashe Chiwanza who were also in PE last year are part of the training squad. But the duo of injury prone Wensely Mbanje and Hilton Mudariki have not been included amongst the hopefuls. There were places however, for trialists Riaan O’Neill and the Harare Sports Club duo of former Young Sables players Mkhululi Ndlela (centre) and Takudzwa Fransisco who received his first call up to the training squad. According to the Zimbabwe Rugby Union all the foreign-based players will link up with the locally based players in South Africa next Tuesday, where they will have the pleasure of rubbing their shoulders and learning from the best in the game. Cheetahs coach Daniel Hondo believes the Zimbabwe rugby side’s camp with their South Africa counterparts is going to be of huge benefit ahead of their Hong Kong Sevens core membership qualifiers. Zimbabwe will train with the Blitzbokke who are also preparing for the main tournament.

In Hong Kong, the Cheetahs will do battle in the 12- team second tier competition where Russia and Spain are the representatives from Europe, Papua New Guinea and Tonga from Oceania, Zimbabwe and Tunisia from Africa, Mexico and Guyana from North America and the Caribbean, Uruguay and Brazil from South America and hosts Hong Kong and Korea from Asia.

The winner of the core series qualifiers will earn core team status for the 2015-16 World Series season and replace the lowest ranked side at the conclusion of the current series.

At the moment South Africa are the top ranked side in the World Sevens Series having so far collected 93 points with New Zealand (88points) in second place while Fiji occupy third place, two points behind the All Blacks.

However, it is the honour to train with the Blitzbokke that Hondo is looking forward to as this will not only psychologically boost his team, but also give them a chance of learning from one of the world’s top rugby playing nations.

“We will leave for Cape Town on the 17th for camp with the South Africa Sevens side and we are getting help from South Africa Rugby Union in preparing for the Hong Kong qualifiers.

The final 12 from this training squad will fly to Hong Kong, while the other four will go back to their bases.

“The final team will travel direct to Hong Kong from Cape Town. We are extremely grateful to SARU for facilitating this important training camp and for the opportunity to train at a world class facility alongside world class players and experts in their field,” read part of a statement from ZRU director of rugby Brighton Chivandire.

Cheetahs Squad:

Fortunate Chipendu, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Takudzwa Francisco, Stephan Hunduza, Graham Kaulback, Jacques Leitao, Kilvan Magunje, Shayne Makombe, Mkhulili Ndlela, Njabulo Ndlovu, Riaan O’Neill, Boyd Rouse, Lenience Tambwera, Biselele Tshamala, Tapiwa Tsomondo.

Coach: Daniel Hondo

Assistant: John Ewing

Manager: Steve Macdonald

Source : The Herald