HARARE – The injury to captain Panashe Zuze will see Shadrick Mandaza start at scrumhalf for Zimbabwe against Uruguay on Thursday in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy, but coach Shaun De Souza isn’t overly concerned that the change will disrupt his usually reliable “bomb squad” formation.

The enterprising Mandaza normally comes off the bench as part of the Young Sables’ six-two split, an approach that worked wonders for De Souza when the Zimbabweans swept aside everybody in April – mostly dominating when the impact players came on – to retain their African title.

Zimbabwe lost their diminutive skipper and scrumhalf in the opening 64-33 defeat to Scotland in Nairobi on Saturday in their opening World Rugby Under-20 Trophy match, forcing De Souza into starting Mandaza in the number 9 jersey.

“The bomb squad is still intact,” De Douza told SportsCast.

“We now have Shadrick starting in Panashe’s place, and we have utility player Simbarashe Kanyangarara, who we have moved to the bomb squad. We’ve taken him out of the wing position and he’ll be coming to focus on the halfback position. So that’s the perfect part of having utility players…that was the strategy going into this tournament. That’s why we only had two specialist 9s because I knew we had Simba who can cover that, and he can also cover 10. And then (fly-half, Brendon) Marume who can also cover 9 and 10. So ja, it gives us variations and different options to look for as we go into every game.

“We’ve also switched Muzuva Gutu and Allan Mawunga at the starting position and the bomb squad (in the loose trio). And we have added (Tawanda) Matipano. He has gone into the starting line-up, he’s taking over Simba’s role at the wing. And we’ve added Munoz (Munotida Marimirofa) on the wing, which adds some more pace and versatility with (Tanaka) Chinyanga still holding the midfield replacement position.”

Injury has also robbed Zimbabwe of big lock forward Huntley Masterson, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament and has since been flown back home, replaced by United States-based Tamuka Kambani.

“Definitely it’s never a good thing to lose a player through injury,” commented De Souza. “We’ve brought in Tamuka Kambani. He’s got experience, he’s a Barthes Cup champion in 2022, and he also played in the Canada Conference Series. So he comes in and tries to fill that slot. Yes, he doesn’t add the weight, but he adds other attributes in the line-out and in open play that could match what Huntley gave us. So ja, we are still excited, and can’t wait for the fixture.”

              ZIMBABWE LINE-UP

Starting: 1. Gealan Jaricha 2. Bryan Chiang 3. Nqobile Manyara 4. Tamuka Kambani 5 Tanaka Gondo-Mukandapi (co-captain) 6. Leo Mutendi 7. Muzuva Gutu 8. Shingi Manyarara 9. Shadrick Mandaza 10. Brendon Marume (co-captain) 11. Edward Sigauke 12. Alex Nyamunda 13. Dion Khumalo 14. Tawanda Matipano 15. Benoni Nhekairo

Substitutes: 16. Tanaka Ndoro 17. Martin Hakunavanhu 18. Gerry Zisengwe 19. Allan Mawunga 20. Tawananyasha Bwanya 21. Simbarashe Knyangarara 22. Tanaka Chinyanga 23. Munotida Marimirofa.


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