Zimbabwe rugby coach Brendan Dawson and team manager Jason Maritz will spend two weeks with New Zealand team Hurricanes next month to acquire training and managerial knowledge from the Super Rugby franchise.
The 2016 Super Rugby champions --whose illustrious list of former players includes All Blacks legends Jonah Lomu (late), Jerry Collins (late), Tana Umaga, Christian Cullen, Ma'a Nonu, Piri Weepu and Julian Savea -- extended the invitation to the Sables pair last week.
"We will spend two weeks in New Zealand where we will be learning coaching and management from the Hurricanes as well as New Zealand club levels just to understand how they go about their things, then bring that to Zimbabwe so that we can introduce it both at Academy and Sables level," Maritz told IndependentSport this week.
"It can only do us well moving forward, obviously the Hurricanes is a franchise that is steeped in history and through connections with John Plumtree and Tony Ward we have managed to secure this invite. They (Hurricanes) have been generous to host us, which is awesome."
Plumtree was Hurricanes' head coach until December when he left the position to become an assistant coach to new All Blacks gaffer Ian Foster. The former Sharks coach has a known affinity with Zimbabwe and in 2018 he was linked with the country's national team coaching job, which was eventually given to ex-Springbok mentor Peter de Villiers.
Ward is Hurricanes' team manager. "From my side obviously the aim is to learn how they go about things, the programmes they use to capture data, how they go about organising tours, essentially all the stuff done by the manager," Maritz said.
"And of course coach Dawsie is hoping to learn different tactics, different game plans and potentially also understand how they go about their fitness regimes, how they go about their day-to-day practice schedules. There is always something to learn from other coaches, new ways of going about skills and training sessions. We are hoping to gather as much information as possible, use and double check with what we already do, but then also use as much of it that works for us, so that we can improve the fitness of our squads, skillsets as well as technical game play scenarios, which I think is quite cool."Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has secured new ball sponsorship from South African kit apparel Amabokoboko Sport.
"It's all systems go," Maritz announced."Initially it's a one-year contract to be potentially extended for a further two years. Per year they will be providing us with 30 match balls and 50 training balls to be used by the Academy, the Sables and potentially Sevens and all domestic games. Obviously we can't use the balls in the Africa Cup because the Africa Cup has its own official balls. Naturally, they (Amabokoboko) want Zimbabwe to promote and endorse them.
We are very excited at this type of partnership, it shows that businesses are willing sponsor us and get involved with us because they can see the vision and what we are trying to create."
A statement by Amabokoboko owner Johan Smal reads: "We are proud to announce that Amabokoboko has become the preferred rugby ball supplier for the Zimbabwe Rugby Union. The 'Pride of Africa' international match ball will be used in all their competitions except the games endorsed by Rugby Afrique. Our association with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union is the start of a long relationship with the country and the gateway to increase our footprint on the continent."