THE Welwitchias will be setting their sights on their first ever Rugby World Cup victory against a bruised Canada after the North American side lost their opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a whopping 7 – 48 against Italy.
The semi-professional Namibians scored a respectable 22 points against the 47 points of the Italians in their opening match of the tournament.
Using the common denominator of Italy’s strong performance as a Tier One team in their upcoming match against the Canadians, the Namibians could be forgiven for getting their hopes up for scoring their first ever victory at a Rugby World Cup tournament.
But before any of that can happen the Namibians will have to face running the gauntlet against the South Africans on Saturday and the reigning champions New Zealand on 6 October.
The Springboks will be motivated to get their pool campaign back on track when they meet the Welwitchias in the only African derby of the tournament. The two sides only faced each other twice before in a world cup tournament and the Namibians have it as their goal to give the Springboks a run for their money and improve on previous match results.
Irvin Newman, a member of the team’s staff in Japan said practice sessions at the Toyota Stadium went well and that the team spirit is at an all time high.
“We are getting a lot of positive feedback from Namibia after Sunday’s match against Italy and that is doing wonders for the team’s spirit. All the messages we get from Namibia tells us how proud the nation is of our boys and that is simply wonderful,” Newman said.
He indicated that the coaches are happy with what the team has achieved so far. He said the coach told the players during the practice sessions in Toyota to do the best they can against the Springboks on match day.
“The main aim for Saturdays’ match is to use all possible opportunities to improve on our previous performances against the South Africans. Tackling a Tier One side like the Springboks in a competition like this will never be an easy task and our opponents will obviously use the opportunity to get as many points on the pool log as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile Phil Davies, the head coach of the Welwitchias, has officially announced the side that will face the Springboks on Saturday.
Only five of the men that played against the Italians during the opening match last Sunday will be in the opening line-up that will face the Springboks.
Captain Tjiuee Uanivi, Cliven Loubser, JC Greyling, Chad Plato, and Johan Tromp are in the starting line-up that will tackle the South Africans.
Peter John Walters, who became the first player since 2011 to make his test debut for Namibia in a World Cup match when he came off the bench against Italy, will start at inside-centre and Eugene Jantjies will extend his all-time appearance record to 68 for the Welwitschias.
AJ De Klerk is also set to start the match against the Springboks for first time. He has previously featured in three matches but did so from the bench.
The Namibian starting line-up are Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen, AJ De Klerk, Johan Retief, Tjiuee Uanivi (C), Thomasau Forbes, Muharua Katjijeko, Adriaan Booysen, Eugene Jantjies, Cliven Loubser, Lesley Klim, Peter John Walters, JC Greyling, Chad Plato and Johan Tromp.
Obert Nortje, Andre Rademeyer, Johannes Coetzee, Prince Gaoseb, Janco Venter, Wian Conradie, Helarius Axasman Kisting and Johan Deysel will be manning the bench.
South African Coach, Rassie Erasmus also made sweeping changes to the Springbok side in anticipation of the match against the Welwitchias.
The players in the South African starting line-up are Warrick Gelant, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Frans Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Schalk Brits (C) Kwagga Smith, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi and Tendai Mtawarira.
Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Cobus Reinach, Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe will be on the bench for the start of the match.