CHEETAHS head coach Graham Kaulback has expressed satisfaction with his team’s preparations ahead of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series to be played in Santiago, Chile, from August 12-14.

Zimbabwe’s rugby sevens team will compete against 11 other nations in the South American nation for the sole ticket to become a core team on the lucrative HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series next season.

In addition to the World Rugby Challenger Series, the Cheetahs are also scheduled to compete at the Rugby World Cup Sevens to be played in Cape Town from September 9 to 11. Kaulback has been working with a core group of locally-based players who have been training regularly at Old Georgians Sports Club under the Cheetahs Academy programme.

The squad also features a few players based outside the country headlined by Spain-based star Shingi Katsvere.

“We are very happy with our preparations for the Challenger Series in Chile as well as building for the World Cup. We have been building a group which comprises mostly of local players that we have been training with in the Academy set-up and we are really happy with how they have been developing as a group,” Kaulback told source.

“One of the highlights of our preparations has been going to Nyanga recently as a group, with three objectives in mind namely team bonding, to top up on our conditioning as well as for the players to have an opportunity for personal development and leadership growth. It was a great weekend so im very happy with how are preps are progressing and obviously they wouldn’t be possible with our corporate partners Zambezi Sables Chicken and Digital Consultancy and few others that enable us to rain the way that we do.”

The Cheetahs are in Pool B of the Challenger Series alongside Hong Kong, Tonga and Jamaica, while hosts Chile have been paired with South Korea, Papua New Guinea and Georgia in Pool A.

Pool C features Germany, Uruguay, Uganda and Lithuania. The competition format replicates the Olympic Games, which sees the 12 teams drawn into three pools of four teams each.

The top two from each pool along with the two best third-placed teams will qualify for the quarter-finals, before the semi-finals and final decide the winners who will gain the ultimate prize of promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Kaulback, who had a successful playing career with the Cheetahs before recently venturing into coaching, said he was confident that his charges would secure the elusive core status on the HSBC World Series.

“Obviously, all teams are top-performing sides in their regions so the competition will be tough, but as the Cheetahs, we have been focusing on the practical steps and on our process goals to do the very best that we can and we feel that should put us in good stead to compete in Chile,” he said.

“We are obviously going there with the first aim of getting out of our pool and taking it one game at a time and seeing where we end up. We want to win the tournament and I’m confident in the guys’ preparation. Having said that, the utmost respect goes to all the other teams that are competing in Chile, they are obviously the best in their regions and the competition will be stiff.”

Cheetahs squad: Godfrey Magaramombe, Kudzai Mashawi, Vuyani Dhlomo, Munopa Muneta, Munesu Muneta, Tapiwa Mulenga, Jafnos Chiwanza, Pride Nyameni, Tadius Dzandiwandira, Ryan Musumhi, Shingirai Katsvere, Nigel Tinarwo

Management: Graham Kaulback (head coach), Ricky Chirengende (assistant coach), Margaret Gibson (physiotherapist)

Non-travelling reserves: Keegan Cooke, Brandon Boshi, Sam Phiri, Jeremiah Jaravaza, Carlos Matematema

Source Newsday