The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Sables Trio in Scottish Rugby Premiership

SABLES' trio of Shingi Mpofu, Denford Mutamangira and Gerald Sibanda are fighting for the league championship in the Scottish Rugby Premiership as their clubs are in control. Front rower Mutamangira and flanker Mpofu are both based at Ayr Rugby Football Club who are in pole position with 58 points from 14 games having suffered one defeat.

But Sibanda's Galashiles Rugby Football Club seem not far off the mark as they are second on the standings with 52 points from 13 games and have suffered two defeats.

The three are all products of Harare Sports Club and were exported to Scotland through deals facilitated by former Zimbabwe Rugby Union president Sithembilenkosini "Themba" Sibanda.

Mutamangira suffered a hamstring injury last week in his sides 32-24 win over Melrose and had to be pulled out after just 35 minutes into the game and will also miss this weekend game.

But the former Harare Sports Club prop is expected back in the fold in the next week and feels that at this stage of the league, they can not afford to slip up as he aims to win the championship for the first time with Ayr.

"I got injured last week but at least I am happy because I am walking. But I can't wait to get back and play because I want to help my team win the championship and we have a chance to win it.

Definitely I am out this weekend but I will know towards the end of the week when I will be back playing, hopefully soon," said the Sables front rower.

However, Sibanda has been out for over two months following a shoulder injury he suffered just four games after making his debut for Galashiles having scored a total of three tries.

Sibanda said they are waiting for Ayr to make a mistake so they can capitalise and they have to do so starting with the one game they have in hand if they are to win the championship.

"We are six points behind Ayr but we have a game in hand. It is not really in our hands at the moment but I am positive they (Ayr) will slip up.

"We just have to win all our games and hope they crack under pressure and I guess there is much drama on the cards as it is going to be a tight finish."

The Cheetahs and Sables winger is expected back in the team colours at the end of the month and added that his experience with Pirates in South Africa and Sports Club in Zimbabwe has made him a complete player.

"Its almost two months that I have not played a game due to this injury but the rehabilitation programme is going on well I will be back in action at the end of the month.

"Coming to Scotland has been an advantage of course because in Zimbabwe and South Africa we play on dry grounds so rugby skills flow smoothly. Here its largely wet making it a challenge to bring the best out of us in horrible weather conditions and still have to perform.

"That challenge definitely is making me a better player who can play in all conditions," added Sibanda.

But he recons it has not been easy settling in Scotland especially given that he suffered a blow in the early days of his contact, adding that he is still committed to Zimbabwe.

"It has been a huge challenge coming into a new career challenge and suffering a setback, really watching from the side lines but on a positive note performed well and took my chance before my setback.

"The support from the coach, fans, president and team mates kept me going because they have appreciated me being part of the family and supported me through the setback.

"For a player it is about winning the hearts of the entire club and be acknowledged and earning respect from team mates by producing on the field of play.

And that is what I have done, I am happy and can't wait to contribute to the clubs success soon but my coming here does not mean I have lost commitment to the national teams. If I am called for duty I am always available for my country," said Sibanda.

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