The Namibian national team will take their preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup to the next level, when they leave for Tunisia and Romania on Wednesday on a three week tour which will include four international matches. Namibia face Tunisia in Tunis on Saturday in an Africa Cup match, then travel to Romania for the annual Nations Cup where they will play three matches against the hosts, Spain and the Argentinean Jaguars respectively. Namibian coach Danie Vermeulen selected the touring party of 27 players from mostly locally based players, as the next four matches do not fall within World Rugby’s international release window which starts on 1 July.
England-based Aviva Premiership players, Jacques Burger and Chrysander Botha were not considered while several South African-based players; Renaldo Bothma, Rohan Kitshoff, Johan Deysel, Thorsten Van Jaarsveld and Danie Dames, all have commitments with their franchises and clubs. Vermeulen could select Namibians playing club rugby in France, they include eighth-man PJ Van Lill, flyhalf Theuns Kotze, lock Tjiuee Uanivi, wing Conrad Marais and prop Aranos Coetzee who will make his debut for Namibia. Vermeulen says: ‘I believe that this is the best team we could select under the circumstances, a number of younger players get another chance to prove themselves.’
Namibia starts the three week tour against Tunisia in Tunis on Saturday in the first match of their defence as African Cup champions. Tunisia was promoted to Africa’s 1A division last year at the expense of Madagascar. Vermeulen expects a big challenge, saying: ‘We are preparing ourselves for a tough time, the conditions will be difficult and Tunisia at home will be a completely different proposition to what they were when we beat them 45-13 in Senegal in 2013.’
Following the test match in Tunis, Namibia will travel to Bucharest in Romania for World Rugby’s Nations Cup where they will meet the hosts, Spain and Argentina’s Jaguars in the ten day tournament. According to Vermeulen, the Nations Cup will be valuable preparation in the build up to the World Cup. He says: ‘We play three matches at test match level, the pressure will be on and this is exactly what we will experience at the World Cup. A number of our players are not available and this is a chance for the younger players to show if they can handle the pressure or not.’
Namibia will travel to North Africa and Europe after an extensive three-week training period following the conclusion of the Vodacom Cup. During this time the touring squad had morning training sessions starting as early as 05:00, the last one in temperatures close to freezing point. The players were put through their paces by the NRU’s strength and conditioning consultant, former Welsh international, Wayne Proctor, assisted by conditioning specialist Lynette Steenkamp.
The Namibian team for the Africa 1A match against Tunisia and the Nations Cup in Romania.
(* note that these players are only available for the Nations Cup )
Forwards : Rathony Becker (Hooker – 10 Caps), Aranos Coetzee (Prop – uncapped), AJ De Klerk (Prop – Uncapped)*, Thinus Du Plessis (Loose forward – 39 caps), Jaco Engels (Prop – 8 caps), Nico Esterhuyse (Lock – 31 caps), DG Wiese (Hooker – 2 caps), Thomasua Forbes (Loose forward – 4 caps), Johnny Redelinghuys (Prop – 42 caps), Callie Swanepoel (Hooker – 4 caps)*, Tjiuee Uanive (Lock – 3 caps), Leneve Damens (Loose forward – uncapped), PJ Van Lill (Loose forward – 33 caps), Janco Venter (Lock – 2 caps)*, Roderique Victor (Loose forward – 2 caps), Casper Viviers (Prop – 7 caps).
Backs: Eneill Buitendag (Scrumhalf – 10 Caps), JC Greyling (Centre – 2 caps), Eugene Jantjies (Scrumhalf – 38 caps), Shaun Kazembi (Fly half – 2 caps), Theuns Kotze (Fly half – 19 caps), Conrad Marais (Wing – 4 Caps), David Philander (Wing – 18 Caps ), Heinrich Smit (Wing – 6 caps), Johan Tromp (Wing – 11 caps), Danie Van Wyk (Centre – 9 caps), Russell van Wyk (Full back – uncapped)*
Namibia’s fixtures leading up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup :
06 June, Tunis, v Tunisia (Africa 1A)
12 June, Bucharest, v Argentina Jaguars (Nations Cup)
17 June, Bucharest, v Romania (Nations Cup)
21 June, Bucharest, v Spain (Nations Cup)
11 July, Windhoek, opponent to be confirmed (International friendly)
18 July, Windhoek, opponent to be confirmed (International friendly)
08 August, Windhoek, v Kenya (Africa 1A)
15 August, Windhoek, v Zimbabwe (Africa 1A)