DRAGONS v BAYONNE (Saturday, KO 8.10)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons star Tonderai Chavhanga is raring to go as he prepares to make his long-awaited return for the region in this weekend’s home Amlin Challenge Cup clash with Bayonne.
The speedster played his first match in six months on Saturday, starring for Newport in their 18-14 British & Irish Cup win over Connacht Eagles.
The South Africa international wing needed surgery after badly hurting his knee in the Dragons’ heavy defeat away to the Ospreys in April.
Chavhanga, 28, played 22 minutes for the Black and Ambers last weekend to give him some much-needed game time.
The lightning fast Zimbabwe-born danger man, a hugely popular figure at Rodney Parade, said his comeback match was badly needed and he can’t wait to get back into action for the Dragons: “I’m glad I got through it – I didn’t get to do much and I could have gone on a bit longer.
“And I’ve got a 100 per cent record with Newport now! The lungs and legs were feeling a bit heavy but I’m feeling good and I was glad to be out there.”
Chavhanga, who won four caps for the Springboks, said he feels in great shape: “Hopefully I will be ready for the weekend. It did me a lot of good getting a few minutes before I hit the big time.
“I’ve done a lot of training with my rehabilitation and the conditioning but nothing beats game time.”
He has endured a tough time away from the game: “I’ve never had an injury like this one before. For just over two weeks I was in a long cast from my hip to the ankle and I couldn’t really move.
“I was bedridden for a little while which was really frustrating.
“It’s probably been the biggest injury I’ve ever had but the medical staff have really managed me well.”
Chavhanga added: “The more I play, the more confident I will get. You just need to get over the little battles – that first tackle and that first run.”
If the Dragons don’t beat French Top 14 strugglers Bayonne, their European campaign will be up in smoke after last Saturday’s 38-25 defeat away to Wasps.
Bayonne beat Italian no-hopers Mogliano 71-7 in their first match last Friday.