Namibia’s national coach Danie Vermeulen has expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of national trials held at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek this weekend. The trials were held as part of a long term campaign to prepare for next year’s World Cup in England as well as selecting a side for Namibia’s end of the year tour to Wales, France and Portugal. Vermeulen said he was impressed by the commitment of the players, some of them who traveled hundreds of kilometres to catch the eye of the coach.
“A number of the players put their hands up for selection for the end of the year squad as well as for the Rugby World Cup,” said Vermeulen. The group of 60 players who attended the trials included the majority of the Namibian based members of the national squad. According to Vermeulen, some of the players were rested to allow them to recover from minor injuries and niggles.
Although hesitant to single out players, Vermeulen was impressed by 23-year old utility back and former Valke player, JC Greyling, who had traveled all the way from Dublin where he plays for Old Wesley Rugby Club, to take part in the trials. Former Namibian lock Nico Esterhuyze also made a welcome return. The 30 test veteran last played for Namibia against Wales in New Plymouth at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Work commitments prevented Esterhuyze from playing international rugby but according to Vermeulen, the 30-year old Esterhuyze has expressed interest in making a comeback to the Welwitchias team. An 18-year old schoolboy from Elnatan Private School, Stiaan Van Der Merwe, made a huge impression on Vermeulen. “I was very impressed with his tactical kicking, he has a massive boot and kicks the ball a long way. He is certainly a player for the future,” said Vermeulen.
Vermeulen will try and finalise his squad of 29 players for the end of the year tour within the next week or two. He said the squad will be a combination of Namibian based players and those who play overseas. “I hope to have all the players in Namibia by the 27th of October to prepare for the warm-up test match before we leave for Europe.” Namibia currently has a number of players appearing in South African and European leagues, 2011 Rugby World Cup captain Jacques Burger is one of the leading loose-forwards in the Aviva Premiership while fullback Chrysander Botha has made an impressive start to his career for the Exeter Chiefs featuring strongly in his side’s 25-22 win over Gloucester this weekend.
Flyhalf Theuns Kotze plays for Bourg-En-Bresse in the French Federal One league and eighth man PJ Van Lill is doing duty for Dax in France’s ProD2 competition. Pumas number eight Renaldo Bothma leads a strong contingent of players in South Africa’s Currie Cup competition that includes Rohan Kitshoff (WP) , Danie Dames (Griquas) as well Johan Deysel and Heinrich Smit (Leopards). Smit has a hamstring injury and will not be available for the end of the year tour.
The Welwitchias are scheduled to play Canada on November the 7th in Wales, the French Barbarians a week later in Toulon before they end their tour on November 21st.