JOHAN Deysel returned to the starting line-up and will captain the Welwitschias against the All Blacks in their toughest test of the 2019 Rugby World Cup so far.
Deysel will lead a strong line-up, which features nine changes to the team which started against the Springboks. Only lock forward Tjiuee Uanivi, left winger JC Greyling, and full-back Johan Tromp have started all three of the Welwitschias matches at the tournament in Japan.
The Welwitschias has their hearts set on a good performance against the men from New Zealand. Canada’s defeat against the All Blacks set a marker for the Namibians and performing well against the world champions will give them hope for their first Rugby World Cup victory
The Namibians will be looking to improve on their previous performance against New Zealand where they lost 58 – 14. Their aim would be to keep score margin as low as possible in a match where defeat is almost a foregone conclusion.
Many of the Welwitschias fits rugby in around their day jobs, but Namibia have proven before that they can make a dent in the world champions.
“Of course it is daunting to play New Zealand, the reigning champions, but for the Namibian players, both on the pitch and watching from the stands, this is a priceless opportunity,” Welwitschia head coach Phil Davies said.
He said the players are discovering that against teams such as South Africa and the All Blacks, the speed and physicality of the game is at a different level, particularly at the breakdown when trying to get quick ball to execute plays or a kicking strategy.
“You cannot buy that kind of experience and our match with South Africa here in Japan was the first time we had faced a Tier 1 nation in four years,” he said.
Earlier in the week Japanese fans watched Namibia run an open training session in Machida as they prepared to face the All Blacks in a repeat of their Rugby World Cup 2015 highlight.
The Welwitschias have been winning over Japanese fans wherever they stayed that always have soft spot for the underdogs.
“I’m a big fan. We hope for Namibia’s first win, like when Japan beat Ireland. That was unbelievable,” said Masa Yagi, who took his family to watch the Namibian team train and run a skills session with dozens of young fans.
After the session, his son Banri and daughter Yuwri presented fly-half Cliven Loubser with a stuffed toy Pikachu, a gift for kicking a penalty against South Africa during last Saturday’s match.
Also watching from the stands of the Canon Sports Park in south-west Tokyo was Simataa Matali, secretary at the Namibian Embassy in Tokyo.
“I’m very proud of them. The last time Namibia played South Africa they almost scored 100 points, so to prevent a huge margin is a big achievement. I’m sure the team will improve for New Zealand, too,” Matali said.
He said the Japanese fans have been amazing. They’ve shown great support for the underdog.
Former Namibian captain Jacques Burger recently reminded the current team that the All Blacks are only human. Deysel proved that when he scored a try against New Zealand when the two teams last met at the 2015 World Cup in England.
“These are some of the greatest players in the world, but they are just human beings like we are – they bleed like we bleed,” he said.
“From the first kick-off, the first tackle, the first ruck, go out and do everything 100 per cent. You do have the ability. They’re not super-human. You can learn off them and maybe you can teach them a couple of things as well.”
The Welwitschias’ clash against the titans of world rugby is set to start at 06:45.