Australia-born Hayden Wilson is hoping to make an impact for Zimbabwe when he lines up for the Cheetahs at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
The 23-year-old, who plays for Normanby Hounds in the Brisbane Rugby League, qualifies for Zimbabwe through his parents and is excited about the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe rugby at international level.
“I have lived in Australia all my life. If I was given the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe, it would truly be a dream come true. Zimbabwe has a significant meaning in my heritage and I’m more than happy to put my hand up and represent Zimbabwe,” said Wilson.
Zimbabwe are drawn with hosts Hong Kong, Tonga and the Philippines in Pool E of the World Series Qualifier, with only the winners of the tournament earning core status at next season’s world series.
The reigning Africa 7s champions return to Hong Kong hoping to improve on last year’s quarter-final effort, when they lost 38-5 to Ireland.
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In a bid to strengthen the team, Zimbabwe coach Gilbert Nnyamutsamba has cast his net wide by announcing a 33 man training squad. Coach Gilbert will use the upcoming Kwese International Sevens Tournament, which will be played on 23rd -24th of March in Harare Sports Club to fine tune the Cheetahs.
The expanded squad, which includes several foreign-based players, is coach Gilbert’s way of trying to look at different combinations of skill ahead of next month’s Hong Kong Sevens and the 2020 Olympics Qualifier.
Zimbabwe expect to field two teams at the Kwese International Sevens Tournament from which a final team will be selected to represent the country.
Zimbabwe will be without six of their key players. Cheetahs team manager Donald Mangenje believes the unavailability of senior players in the squad because of club commitments presents an opportunity for emerging talent to compete for their spots.
“Last year was a good year for the team. We had and still have several options when selecting our final squad and whenever the senior player are not available it creates a window for youngsters to earn starting berths in the team,” Mangenje said.
Article written by Sundaa Machuki
Main Photo Credit: Kwese Sports