THE Sables have suffered a blow in their bid to get some of the players who helped Zimbabwe lift the Africa Cup to play in the Emirates Dubai Six-Nations tournament. Prop Denford Mutamangira yesterday told The Herald he will not be available for the Sables tour to Dubai due to club commitments. Fullback Raymond De Jonge will not be available on health grounds as he is undergoing rehabilitation. The Scotland-based Mutamangira was one of the players who helped Zimbabwe lift the Africa Cup for the first time since the turn of the millennium. De Jong, who also played a big role, is based in Australia.
"I am having extensive rehab done at the moment on a knee disease, patella tendonitis," said De Jonge.
"Will hopefully be back up and running for pre-season next year."
Another Scotland based player, flanker Shingi Mpofu, who is also based at AYR Rugby Football Club with Mutamangira, was still doubtful yesterday as he was waiting for clearance from his club president.
Most of the Sables foreign-based players were not available for the Namibia tour due to several reasons that included lack of funding to bring in the players and commitments such as exams and club duties.
However, the likes of South Africa based hooker Tatenda Karuru, prop Brian "Bee Mak" Makamure have given hope for a stronger Sables side after they indicated they will be available for selection.
Makamure believes Zimbabwe rugby is ready to take the game to the next level and feels the Zimbabwe Rugby Union is capable of turning the game into a professional sport.
"There is a lot of good that can be taken from what the team experienced in Namibia. Regardless of the constraints that the team as well as administration face, we are able to pull it off.
"The fact that the Sables only lost by a handful points to Namibia, who last year were at the World Cup, shows that we are ready to take our rugby to the next stage.
"However, this won't be possible until the corporate sphere gets on board," said the former Young Sables prop.
Makamure feels that there is need for Zimbabwe to play more games at this level so that they get used to stiff competition ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
"We need to play more matches at that level and intensity so the team can get used to that fast first class rugby," said Makamure.
"I would say the squad needs to take it a game at a time and ensure that they minimise on mistakes that could end up costing the game because everything else will follow.
"My love for the Sables has come to a level where I can put my life on the line for that team, the country and the people we represent.
"Playing in South Africa has been good exposure for me.
"Zimbabwe wants winners, trophies and the like. We are the African champions, reigning Victoria Cup champions and despite the recent losses, Zimbabwe Sables will most definitely get back to their winning ways in Dubai."