Mudariki’s timely Sables return

24 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Mudariki’s timely Sables return

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema
Deputy Sports Editor

SCRUMHALF Hilton Mudariki has been included in the Sables’ 27-man squad for next month’s four-nation rugby tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, which includes Kenya, Namibia and Brazil.

However, this is no ordinary return for the Zimbabwe skipper.

Mudariki was last in action when the Sables ran riot with a massive 101-3 rout of Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup at Old Georgians Sports Club in July, before a hip injury ruled him out of the reverse fixture a few days later.

Since then, the pint-sized scrumhalf has been putting in a shift to return to full fitness.

He has been working with a pair of specialists to ensure he is ready for national duty again.

“I strained my hip during a kicking session and that is what kept me out of that Burkina Faso game (second match).

“I was very close to being fit for that second Burkina Faso game, but the medical staff opted that I miss the match and make sure I recover fully,” he said.

“The recovery process has gone on very well and I was very lucky and blessed to have Alice Randal as our physio.

“I have been working with her to make sure I get the hip right and have also been working with Grant Mitchell for the last couple of weeks, just fine-tuning some of the little things.

“Now, I am back to full fitness and raring to go.”

With the benefit of hindsight, the Sables captain now knows the sports science experts made the right call to make him skip the second assignment against the Stallions as a precautionary measure.

After all, he did not miss much as his troops kept their momentum and hammered the West Africans again to top Pool D.

The Sables were in uncompromising mood as they ran circles around the West Africans and won 95-5.

The victory set them up on a date with Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals.

While Mudariki has been on the recovery path, a lot has also happened off the pitch, including the decision by Rugby Africa to host the Africa Cup quarter-finals in France.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) also accepted an invitation to grace a four-team tournament slated for November 12 to November 21 and a friendly test against top South African club, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

That has been sweet news for the 29-year-old scrumhalf.

The Sables are expected to use the Cheetahs’ match, set for November 6, as warm-up for the four-nation tourney.

“Yes, so much has happened since the Burkina Faso game and we are very excited about it. “The friendly against the Cheetahs is awesome news and it gives us an opportunity to hit the ground running and test ourselves against quality opposition.

“They are a quality side having played in the Pro14, while some of their players have Springboks caps.

“It will also be good to have old foes like Namibia and Kenya in South Africa, as there is a lot of history there.

“We know they are quality teams and we also know that there is a possibility we might meet them next year at the Rugby Africa Cup tournament.

“We haven’t played Brazil yet, but we will definitely do our homework before we meet,” he said.

In naming his squad for the South African tour, coach Brendan Dawson has blended some regulars and a few newcomers.

The ZRU, who have been pulling all the stops to help the Sables adequately prepare for a final crack at a World Cup place, have lined up a camp scheduled to start on November 1.

But, as captain, Mudariki is already talking to some of the new faces to get them up to speed with the Sables culture.

“We have been in communication as a squad. There are a couple of new players that have come in and we definitely have to get them up to speed on everything.

“We have a couple of Zoom calls lined up in the next couple of days to make sure everyone is up to speed and knows what we want to accomplish.

“The goal is for us to hit the ground running when we get into camp, with everyone having done their homework and we don’t waste time,” he said.


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