HARARE – Zimbabwe head coach Shaun De Souza will shuffle his key players across crucial positions to avoid their threat being counteracted by Kenya when the two rivals clash in the fifth-place play-off on the final day of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy in Nairobi on Sunday.

Zimbabwe recorded a famous come-from-behind 38-37 win over the United States during the week in the group stages, with regular vice-captain Brandon Marume coming off the bench at fullback to propel the Young Sables to their third ever win in the history of this competition.

Following his impact from the bench at fullback, Marume starts there for Zimbabwe in the crucial tie against the Kenyans while the cool-as-a-cucumber Benoni Nhekairo – who had an admirably commanding performance at fly-half against the US – remains in the number 10 role.

Both are comfortable playing fullback and flyhalf, but De Souza has a clear plan in place for the two, who are some of Zimbabwe’s game-breakers likely to be watched closely by Kenya.

“We will interchange roles between 10 and 15, because they will target Marume,” De Souza told SportsCast from Nairobi on the eve of the match.

“So we will play ‘cat-and-mouse’ between these two characters.”

The vibrant Simbarashe Kanyangarara, who fits nearly everywhere in the backline, keeps the scrumhalf position after captain Panashe Zuze failed to shrug off a knee injury that had him limping off the first pool match against Scotland.

“We didn’t want to risk him (Zuze), coming into a physical game,” commented De Souza.

Marume will captain the side.

A major cause for concern for Zimbabwe has been the team’s line-out, which has struggled both on and off the ground in the tournament.

“We’ve worked on both our hookers, both have put in the work,” said De Souza of the line-out woes. “Obviously we want to get clean ball on set-pieces, hopefully it works tomorrow.”

But a bright spot for Zimbabwe in the forwards pack is big eighth-man Shingi Manyarara, who was absolutely phenomenal against the Americans and proved why French Top-14 club Racing 92 was quick to sign him less than a year after finishing school, following a short trial stint.

The teenager from Mutare was Zimbabwe’s stand-in captain against the US.

“Shingi has played almost every game for us, and he has taken some knocks,” said De Souza. “He plays a pivotal role. He has settled well in the side. That’s why we made him captain in that last game.”

Zimbabwe, African champions over the past two editions of the Barthes Trophy, beat hosts and crowd favourites Kenya 28-7 in this year’s continental final in April to retain their title.

So the East Africans – now hosting this second-tier youth global competition – will be out for revenge in this match, which the two sides are taking very seriously as the winner will claim a record highest finish in the tournament’s short history.

De Souza expects a fiercely contested match between the two foes.

“It’s a nail-bitter of a fixture,” said the former Sables ace. “It’s a big rivalry. The home side has added personnel to strengthen their side. We expect a physical game. They (Kenya) have improved on their line-out. Their line speed is quicker. They’ve certainly improved a lot and we will try to counter them.”


Starting: 1. Nqobile Manyara 2. Bryan Chiang 3. Tadiwa Chimwada 4. Tamuka Kambani 5. Tanaka Gondo-Mukandapi (v/captain) 6. Muzuva Gutu 7. Hagler Muchenje 8. Shingi Manyarara 9. Simbarashe Kanyangarara 10. Benoni Nhekairo 11. Edward Sigauke 12. Alex Nyamunda 13. Dion Khumalo 14. Tawanda Matipano 15. Brandon Marume (captain).

Subs: 16. Takudzwa Zvomuya 17. Gealan Jaricha 18. Gerry Zisengwe 19. Tawananyasha Bwanya 20. Allan Mawunga 21. Tanaka Ndoro 22. Shaddy Mandaza 23. Tanaka Chinyanga.


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