Vermeulen Rings the Changes for Canada Test

National rugby coach Danie Vermeulen has made wholesale changes to his team to take on Canada in the first match of their Windhoek Draught European tour in Colwyn Bay, Wales on Friday evening.

The team, which will be captained by Jacques Burger for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, shows a total of 10 changes to the starting lineup that beat Germany 58-20 last Wednesday.

Burger is one of four European-based players who have been selected for Friday’s match, with the others being eighthman PJ van Lill and flyhalf Theuns Kotze, who both play in France, and fullback Chrysander Botha who plays for Exeter Chiefs in England.

Another new addition to the team is wing David Philander who has joined the team from New Zealand where he plays for Spotswood United.

Burger, who joined the team from his English club, Saracens, replaces Thomasau Forbes at flank, while PJ van Lill, who plays for Dax in France, takes over at eighthman, with Tinus du Plessis moving to the flank.

Chrysander Botha comes in at fullback in place of Danie Dames who moves to right wing, while Philander replaces Johan Tromp on the left wing.

Darryl de la Harpe and Johan Deysel are retained as the centre combination but there’s a new halfback combination with Theuns Kotze taking over from Shawn Kaizemi at flyhalf while Eniell Buitendag replaces Ryan de la Harpe at scrum half.

Amongst the forwards, Johnny Redelinghuys replaces Jaco Engels at loose head prop, while Tjiuee Uanivi, who plays for Brive in France, replaces Nico Esterhuyse at lock.

Esterhuyse was a late withdrawal from the European tour after tearing a calf muscle during a training session over the weekend. His place in the squad has been taken by United lock Stefan Neustadt.

Burger joined the squad in Colwyn Bay on Monday, and coach Vermeulen said it was great to have him back in the squad.

“We are delighted to have Jacques back and he has immediately made a major impact on the vibe in the squad. He had 52 minutes for Saracens against Harlequins over the weekend and we would like to give him as much game time as possible against Canada.”

Canada opened their European tour with a 25-20 defeat against an English Championship Invitational side on Saturday. Canada will however be strengthened considerably for the test against Namibia when their top professional players will be available after being released by their clubs.

Canada is currently ranked 17th in the world by the IRB while Namibia is ranked 22nd.

Coach Vermeulen said he expected a tough battle against Canada.

“We expect the Canadians to be extremely physical, we know that we will probably pick up an injury or two so we need to manage the players to ensure we remain competitive in all our matches.”

Namibia Breweries meanwhile announced a sponsorship of N$600 000 to the Namibian rugby team last week.

The sponsorship is made up of a N$350 000 sponsorship for a new kit, N$150 000 for broadcasting rights to televise Namibia’s matches in Europe and N$100 000 cash which was raised by Namibia Breweries at a gala dinner fundraising campaign last month.

The fundraising campaign was attended by Springbok legends like Joost van der Westhuizen, Corne Krige and Toks van der Linde and Namibia Breweries’ managing director Wessie van der Westhuizen said it was a big success.

“Many said it was the best ever, and the N$100 000 cheque we received was proof of what the night delivered. It exceeded what we expected and made us very proud,” he said.

“I am passionate about rugby and we will go out of our way to bring rugby back to where it was before. I’d like to congratulate our boys on a good performance against Germany and I can’t wait to see what they will do on their European tour,” he added.

The president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Bradley Basson thanked Namibia Breweries for their sponsorship.

“It’s a privilege for us to receive this sponsorship and we are proud to be associated with Windhoek Draught. It’s not the first time that we have been involved with Namibia Breweries and I am just glad that we could restore their confidence in us and I hope we can nurture this relationship further. We also received positive reports from the IRB who said the NRU’s administration was amongst the best in the world,” he said.

Source : The Namibian