With the Rugby World Cup now less than a month away, Namibia’s squad has been trimmed down to 36 players who leave for Durban this weekend for a two-week training camp with the Springboks.
Of the initial 50-man training squad that was announced in June, 14 players have been dropped with hooker Rathony Becker probably the most unlucky not to make the squad.
He was a member of the team that qualified for the World Cup in Madagascar last year while he was also a regular member of this year’s Vodacom Cup campaign.
He wasn’t selected for last month’s Test series against Russia, but came on as a substitute in last Saturday’s 80-6 victory against Zimbabwe.
The selectors have however gone with youth, giving the nod to 20-year-old Louis van der Westhuizen and 21-year-old DG Wiese, who join Torsten van Jaarsveld as the hookers in the squad.
Some other squad members who featured in the Vodacom Cup series and didn’t make the grade include Shawn Kaizemi, Victor Rodrigues, Morne Blom, Shaun du Preez, Daniel Arries and Tuna Amutenya.
Besides Becker, however, none of the other dropped players featured over the past two months and their omission was to be expected.
Amongst the forwards, the squad has an abundance of front rowers and loose trio players, but they are noticeably short in depth at lock.
Only two locks have been selected – Tjiuee Uanivi and Janco Venter, and even the 21-year-old Venter has been converted to lock from a flank forward.
Flanker Tinus du Plessis has filled the position before while eighthman PJ van Lill could possibly also be used in this position, but it’s not an ideal situation.
Amongst the backs there is depth and strong competition in most positions but the obvious exception is at flyhalf where Theuns Kotze is the only recognised number ten in the group. The match-winning Kotze is a must for the team, but if he get’s injured there could be problems in filling his position.
A tougher trimming process still lies ahead when five more players have to be dropped before the final 31-man World Cup squad is announced by 31 August and after the incredible journey that this team has been on, some more heartbreak lies ahead.
It was alway going to be a tough task, as emphasised by the president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Bradley Basson following Saturday’s 80-6 victory against Zimbabwe.
“I don’t want to be a coach at this stage – it’s going to be a tough call. All these players who have played in the tests have showed they are worthy and deserving to be included in the final squad and I think the coaches will have a very tough task,” he said.
Namibia’s captain against Zimbabwe, Rohan Kitshoff, concurred with Basson but said Namibian rugby was in a healthy state.
“My heart goes out to everyone who does not make the team because they have all worked very hard. But I think overall, Namibian rugby is in a very healthy state and even the guys who will not go to the World Cup, going forward next year, I think those are the guys who will carry the Union forward over the next three or four years,” he said.
The Namibian 36-man squad is as follows:
Johnny Redelinghuys, Jaco Engels, Rahul Larson, Casper Viviers, Aranos Coetzee, AJ de Klerk, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, JG Wiese, Janco Venter, Tjiuee Uanivi, Jacques Burger, Wian Conradie, Leneve Damens, Tinus du Plessis, Rohan Kitshoff, Thomasau Forbes, Rezando Botes, Renaldo Bothma and PJ van Lill.
Eniell Buitendag, Arthur Bouwer, Damian Stevens, Eugene Jantjies,
Theuns Kotze, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Heinrich Smit, Danie van Wyk, Danie Dames, Conrad Marais, David Philander, Russel van Wyk, Chrysander Botha, Johan Tromp.
Courtesy of AllAfrica.com