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Acid test for Zimbabwe rugby academy as they face Border Bulldogs

IT will be a tough test for the Zimbabwe Rugby Academy when they face the Border Bulldogs on Sunday (April 28) at 1430hrs in the debut appearance at the SuperSport Rugby Challenge at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium, East London.

The spirited Zimbabweans have announced their squad of 22 players who will kick things off on Sunday.

Head Coach Brendon Dawson believes it will be a trying quest, one which his charges are ready to take on.

“Being our first game it is going to be a lot of teething problems and 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 and guys have come from all over the world and parts of Africa to come into camp.

“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,” said Dawson.

The Border Bulldogs are known to play a running game and are renowned for their ball handling skills, Dawson says there are plans to counter that.

“We have got our defence 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 defence – 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 and his technical team have made a few positional changes with the likes of Kudakwashe Chiwanza playing at full-back instead of the usual wing position and Shingirai Katsvere moved to centre from his usual full-back position.

Speaking on the many changes and different combinations made in the starting 15, Dawson says some of his decisions are derived from his observation of these players as Sevens players with the Zambezi Cheetahs.

“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 bring 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 defence 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.

The squad:

Forwards: 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

Backs: 10. Brendon Mandivenga 11. Matthew McNab 12. Riaan O’Neil 13. Shingirai Katsvere 14. Takudzwa Kumadiro 15. Kudakwashe Chiwanza

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