With the exception of two names, Namibia has finalised its 33-man squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.
Coach Allister Coetzee believes these are the players to end Namibia’s winless run at rugby’s global showpiece event spanning 22 tournament appearances.
The closest Namibia has come to winning a World Cup match was their memorable effort in 2015, when they held the lead at half-time before agonisingly losing 16-17 to Georgia.
They are targeting at least two victories in France where they face the hosts, New Zealand, Italy and Uruguay in Pool A.
The squad is led by skipper Johan Deysel, who will lead Namibia for a second successive Rugby World Cup, with Torsten van Jaarsveld his deputy.
They are among 14 survivors from the 2019 edition in Japan, while utility back Hilarius Kisting, who is nursing a broken arm, is the most significant absentee.
“I’ve been working well with these two gentlemen, and I’m very pleased with how well they’ve kept the group together. The way they’ve led the team, and their individual performances as well,” Coetzee said of his reliable lieutenants.
“Before you can be a captain, you got to be picking yourself in the team, and without a doubt, they have been selecting themselves. Their form is good, they lead by example on the field, and drive the team culture off the field,” he continued.
“Besides those two, we have a good leadership core with experience. Players like Tjiuee [Uanivi], Damian [Stevens], Cliven [Loubser], Prince [!Gaoseb] and Wian Conradie as well. So, these are the players that will support the captain and vice captain as well,” he said.
Coetzee held off on naming standby reinforcements until at least after Saturday’s match against South African franchise the Bulls at Vegkop Stadium in Windhoek in their last warm-up game.
“We have a good number of players who will come on our standby list which is not finalised yet, but we have a good idea who we want to include there,” Coetzee said.
“A week in rugby is a very long time. You pick up an injury or two on average per game. So, while they are not in the squad, they might be called up before you know it. We have all those players training with us as if they are part of the squad.”
Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) president Petrie Theron hopes the issues around the two outstanding forwards will be finalised speedily.
“You would have noted that two forwards have not been named yet, for the reason that we are awaiting medical clearance in the one instance and finalisation of final documents from the Ministry [of Home Affairs and Immigration] before we can announce them,” said Theron.
Namibia’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad is as follows:
Forwards: Jason Benade, Adriaan Booysen, Aranos Coetzee, Wian Conradie, Tiaan de Klerk, Prince !Gaoseb, Richard Hardwick, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Ludick, Johan Retief, Desiderius Sethie, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Tjiuee Uanivi, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, PJ van Lill, Casper Viviers.
Backs: Oela Blaauw, Danco Burger, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Cliven Loubser, Le Roux Malan, Gerswin Mouton, Chad Plato, Alcino Isaacs, Divan Rossouw, Damian Stevens, Tiaan Swanepoel, Jacques Theron and Andre van der Berg.