‘Zim rugby players lack exposure’

Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
VODACOM Blue Bulls assistant coach Dean Greyling believes junior Zimbabwe rugby players lack exposure and game time and this has become the biggest challenge in developing the schoolboy teams. The Blue Bulls yesterday held a training clinic at Jubilee field with the Prince Edward Tigers who are set to take on bitter rivals Churchill Bulldogs in the main curtain-raiser of the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions Cup on Saturday.

After a heavy training session in the morning at Innovate High Performance Centre that included both a gym session, and an on-field training session, the Bulls held their second training clinic since Jesse Kriel joined the squad on Monday.

The versatile Kriel flew into Harare on Monday afternoon and went straight to Mabvuku’s Donnybrook Primary School where the Bulls were having their third training clinic since arriving in Zimbabwe last Friday.

Their first training clinic was in Victoria Falls on Sunday before the South African Super Rugby franchise connected to the capital. However, it was after watching the Prince Edward Tigers in action that Greyling felt there was difference between the local junior players and the South African players.

“From my point of view at this stage I don’t see much difference with the South African schools because these boys have the size, they have the speed and they look naturally switched on, the only thing that’s needed is exposure.

“There seems to be a lot of talent in this lot and just from the few moments we have been with them they have proved that they are very quick learners.

“The moves, skills and drills we went through with them were easy for the boys to replicate. “But I think that the major difference with our schoolboys in South Africa is that these players here do not have much exposure and would need more clinics because in South Africa there are a lot of such clinics.

“Schoolboys get to play a lot of matches and there are several school festivals and these things help develop the boys as players so I am sure that could help them match up with our (South African) players,” said the former Springboks loose-head prop.

It was at Donnybrook Primary School that the Bulls backliners held their training session before taking time to share their skills with the community’s youth also making it Kriel’s first training session in Africa this year.

This was also the same platform that Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard used to resume training with a light session in which he avoided contact as he started his recovery. And Pollard will definitely not be part of the players on the pitch on Saturday when his side takes on the Toyota Cheetahs in the historic clash of the Super Rugby Sides at the National Sports Stadium in the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions.

Pollard might miss the opening weeks of the 2016 Super Rugby competition due to a shoulder strain, a knock picked in the Rugby World Cup tournament while playing for the Springboks against Scotland.

“Obviously that is going to be a bit of a strain on us but injuries are part of the game and I think the real issue is if, or how, we will be able to fill that gap. “As a team we have to have alternatives, quality alternatives so that there is back-up. “We are a side with depth and different game plans for different situations but we will see how the season goes,” said Greyling.

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