SABLES coach Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge believes some of the players that donned the jersey in the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations tournament are actually not ready and need more exposure.
The Sables lost both their games against Spain (14-47) and Namibia (37-33) but the coach feels there were more positives drawn from these two games than negatives despite the loss.
"There were a number of players in the team that we thought were ready for playing in the national team but it appeared they are not ready for this stage as well, they need more exposure at a lower level.
"There are also some players whose sell-by date has passed and we need to work on that so we have the best players in the side, of cause selected on merit as we have always insisted. But the only way we can close the gap between us and both Namibia and Spain is by becoming semi-pro at least because competition is serious at this level and we need the players to be together for a long time. Conditioning is one of the things on top of the list as well because we need players in top form if we are to last the whole game," said Mandenge.
The side is expected back home this morning.
In their final game against Spain, the Sables trailed by a narrow 9-14 half time score but Spain turned up the tempo in the second half to run out comfortable winners as the Sables only managed to add a five pointer.
Spain scored a total of six tries, while left wing Javier Carrion added 15 points with the boot.
Hooker Juan Anaya led the way with two tries, while flanker Jon Magunazelaia, centre Corey Smith, right wing Matias Tudela and replacement fullback Cesar Sempere scored one each.
Sempere also added one conversion. For Zimbabwe, flyhalf Tichafara Makwanya scored three penalties while second half lock substitute Jan Ferreira scored their only try and Mandenge feels the Sables have themselves to blame.
"I believe we are not far off the mark against the likes of Spain because the statistics sheet shows that we were almost balanced save for the fact that we conceded two soft tries through intercepts, and three off push overs.
"I feel that we played better against Spain than we did against Namibia last Saturday because the (rookie) players were probably panicking, had stage fright and were not yet used to playing together.
The more experienced players were not available due to various reasons that included lack of funds from the Zimbabwe Rugby Union coffers, exams and work commitments," said Mandenge.
Forwards: Costa Dinha (captain) Tapiwa Mangezi, Pieter Joubert, Jan Ferreira, Vakai Hove, Royal Mwale, Tinoziva Chikobvu, Fortune Chipendo, Biselele Tshamala, Fidel Nyabusha, Lucky Sithole, Takunda Chifokoyo, Samson Makuku. Backs: Scotty Jones, Phil Machisa, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafa Makwanya, Wes Mbanje, Jafet Ndebele, Daniel Hondo, Danny Robertson, Shane Makombe, Gavin Nyawata, Tangai Nemadire, Gardner Nechironga.
"The major difference is that we are not a professional set-up and at the end of the day players end up going to work in as much as they might want to play for the nation because that is where their bread is buttered.
"Namibia had two coaches from South Africa helping them on the technical awareness side, not that we are not capable but with help comes new ideas and different perspectives."
Despite travelling with a depleted squad that comprised of 12 non-capped players for the tournament, Mandenge added that he was convinced that Zimbabwe has depth but exposure at this level would drive the Sables to a higher position.
"I do not have any regrets over this tour because we did all we could, we have seen some players and I believe we should get more of these games so that the fringe players get the exposure and we get the needed depth.
"Lack of experience let us down and that is one other important thing we need, I guess with the Dubai tournament coming up we will be a much better and more prepared side coming from here," said tMandenge conceded that The XV Lions won their game through forward play as they dominated the scrums and put in some impressive driving mauls taking control especially in the second half where they made light work of the Sables.
Having travelled with a depleted side, the situation got worse after some of the top players were ruled out of the Spain game as Daniel Robertson was ruled out while prop Vakai Hove had to be flown back home following an Achilles' tendon injury.
The more experienced players were not available due to various reasons that included lack of funds from the Zimbabwe Rugby Union coffers, exams and work commitments.
Forwards: Costa Dinha (captain) Tapiwa Mangezi, Pieter Joubert, Jan Ferreira, Vakai Hove, Royal Mwale, Tinoziva Chikobvu, Fortune Chipendo, Biselele Tshamala, Fidel Nyabusha, Lucky Sithole, Takunda Chifokoyo, Samson Makuku.Backs: Scotty Jones, Phil Machisa, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafa Makwanya, Wes Mbanje, Jafet Ndebele, Daniel Hondo, Danny Robertson, Shane Makombe, Gavin Nyawata, Tangai Nemadire, Gardner Nechironga.