Namibia announces World Cup squad … Iron-man Burger ready to lead

Windhoek: Welwitschias coach Phil Davies yesterday announced his much-anticipated 31-man squad to represent Namibia at next month’s rugby World Cup in England, which starts on September 18 and finishes on October 31.

Heading to the 8th edition of the quadrennial world rugby showpiece, Namibia will once again be under the trusted captainship of the ever-fantastic Jacques Burger, who is one of the 14 experienced players in the squad.

Burger is also one of the four players in the squad that have appeared at two previous World Cup editions, with the other three being prop Johnnie Redelinghuys, loose forward Tinus du Plessis and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies, who all appeared at the 2007 (France) and 2011 (New Zealand) editions.

Also boasting experience are Raoul Larson, Rohan Kitshoff, PJ van Lill, Theuns Kotzè, Darryl de La Harpe, Danie van Wyk, Conrad Marais, David Philander and Chrysander Botha, who all appeared at the 2011 edition in New Zealand.

Besides experienced players, the team also boasts some great promising young talent in the likes of Tjiuee Uanivi, Louis van der Westhuizen, Wian Conradie, Damian Stevens and Casper Viviers.

Coach Davies admitted that it was difficult to make the final selection as Namibia had developed depth in certain positions over the last couple of months.

“It was tough. We have good depth in the midfield, lots of talent in the back three and also in our back row. But there are some areas where we lack a bit of depth. We are looking at developing some young players for the future in those positions,” Davies said.

“I feel the players that have put their hands up have been rewarded with selection. There’s a lot of courage and character and we will be doing everything to get that first ever elusive World Cup win,” he added.

With fierce competition in Pool C, Namibia is set to face defending champions New Zealand on September 24, followed by a string of crucial clashes against Georgia, Tonga and Argentina. Excluding Namibia, the other teams in Pool C are ranked in the top 15 of the world rankings, with Namibia ranked 20th.

Namibia’s 31-man squad: Forwards – Johannes Coetzee, AJ de Klerk, Jaco Engels, Raoul Larson, Johnnie Redelinghuys, Casper Viviers, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Janco Venter, Tjiuee Uanivi, Renaldo Bothma, Jacques Burger, Wian Conradie, Leneve Damens, Tinus du Plessis, Rohan Kitshoff, PJ van Lill.

Backs – Eneill Buitendag, Eugene Jantjies, Damien Stevens, Theuns Kotzè, Darryl de La Harpe, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Danie van Wyk, Conrad Marais, David Philander, Heinrich Smith, Russell van Wyk, Chrysander Botha, Johan Tromp.