The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Foreign-Based Players Trickle in

FOREIGN-BASED players start trickling in today in preparation for the Sables Rugby World Cup qualifiers with Scotland-based prop Denford Mutamangira expected in the country this afternoon.And, for Daniel Robertson, it's the start of good competition.

Mutamangira is one of the more than 12 foreign-based players that were named in coach Brendan Dawson's training squad while fullback Robertson is making a return to the Sables fold for the first time in two years.

According to Sables manager Brighton Chivandire, the Sables camp is set to start on June 16 while most of the players are expected to be in Zimbabwe by Tuesday.

The last time Robertson featured for the Sables was in November of 2013 during the Windhoek Lager tri-nations tournament where he suffered an ankle injury and took a break from the game.

"The last time I played for the Sables was against Namibia, even though it was just for about 20 minutes as I got injured on my ankle, it took me a while to get my ankle right but everything is good now." said the Old Hararians fullback.

"I was in Australia, playing rugby and visiting mum who lives there. I could not move to Australia, obviously, because of my age and I still have family here, I came back and struggled to find a job, I have been looking for a job and I have since found one.

"I gained a little bit of weight when I came back because I had not played for a year, so I had to lose that weight and get into shape, It has been a struggle but I am getting there.

"Rugby has been good and it's going to be interesting this year."

The former Zimbabwe Under-20 backliner feels that there is going to be healthy competition in this year in the Sables camp as more players have started showing interest in playing for Zimbabwe and this, he feels, will make him work hard to earn a place into the Africa Cup squad.

"There are a lot of good players, a lot of people are coming back (to play for Zimbabwe), and it is going to be tough, not just at club level but international level, as well to make the team.

"I am looking forward to making the travelling party, obviously coming back I have done a lot of work, am stronger, faster and I cant wait. There are some big names inside but I just have to prove myself.

"What I am looking forward to most is playing with a great bunch of players. We have a lot of talent and for us to play together and win in Madagascar and qualify for the World Cup would be amazing."

And despite the fact that rivals Namibia and Kenya have had more meaningful preparations compared to Zimbabwe, Robertson remains optimistic the Sables can make it.

"They (Kenya and Namibia) may have upped their preparations but I think everyone (in the Sables squad) has upped their intensity for this World Cup, especially Namibia, who have a lot of foreign-based players playing in England and South Africa.

"Kenya were based in Cape Town and focused on this as well. As Zimbabwe have to put our heads down and do the work. The team will come together and we will gel and make everything work before we leave," he said.

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