by Takudzwa Chitsiga
FORMER Sharks Academy rugby player Tariro Benza has received a potentially career-changing opportunity after being invited for trials at the Inside Running Academy, based in Mount Maunganui, in New Zealand.
New Zealand All Blacks Strength and Conditioning Coach, Nic Gill and former England and Wasps player Dan Ward-Smith run the academy.
Benza, a hooker, said he was hopeful that he will make the grade in New Zealand.
“I will be leaving for New Zealand this Sunday for trials with an academy called Inside Running and I am looking forward to make the grade.
“After two years at Sharks Academy, I think I have matured as a player and I am looking at new challenges,” said Benza.
The 21-year-old has always been a rugby fanatic from early age, having played at Redcliff Primary before proceeding to Watershed College in Marondera where he made a mark until the Sharks Academy scouts brought him on board.
“I have been progressing well at Sharks Academy and the opportunity to play at the highest level will come with a challenge that I am going to welcome with both hands.
“It will be great if I make the grade in New Zealand but I am well prepared as I have been practicing a lot ever since the offer came through.
“I feel I am in good condition and take up any challenges. It will be good to progress through Sharks Academy who have seen several Zimbabweans who have become world class players go through the academy.
“I emulate some players who made it and I believe I should represent my country at one time,” added Benza.
Sharks Academy in Durban has seen several Zimbabweans graduate to become good players with the most notable one being Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira who has been a key member of the Springboks for several years.
His young brother Raymond Mtawarira also attended the same institution as did Zimbabwe Sables player Lenience Tembwera.
But for Tariro, to break into rugby appears a shift in a family where his father is a football enthusiast and player. Tariro’s father Innocent Benza, owns and plays for ZIFA Northern Region Division One side Herentals and is still active at 43 years.
Taririo’s young brother Tinotenda, who is a student at Peterhouse, also plays for Herentals and is also set for a trial stint at the PSG Academy in France on Sunday.-Herald