Welwitschias take on the Blue Bulls 

Alcino Isaacs in action for the Welwitschias against the Blue Bulls. File photo

The Namibian Welwitschias will be in action for the first time this year when they take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a friendly at the Hage Geingob National Rugby Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

The match will serve as preparation for Namibia’s test match against Portugal on 13 July as well as the Africa Cup in Uganda at the end of July, and with that in mind, a predominantly local-based team has been selected with the aim to broaden the pool of national players.

All but three of the starting 15 players are from local clubs, except for fullback Oela Blaauw of the University of Johannesburg, lock Ruan Ludick of the French club Chatres and prop Haitembu Shifuka of the North West Lepoards. 

The 28-man squad includes seven players who represented Namibia at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, in Blaauw, Alcino Isaacs, Danco Burger, Jacques Theron, Johan Retief, Mahepisa Tjeriko and Prince !Gaoseb who captains the side from the back of the scrum. The emphasis, however, is on local-based players and the youth, with the hookers Armand Combrinck and Edward Drotsky who were Namibia’s co-captains at the u20 Barthes Cup in April, also in the squad. 

National coach Allister Coetzee yesterday said their preparations were not ideal. 

“We’ve been training twice a week for the past four weeks, but because the players were still busy with club rugby and training there as well, it was a bit of a balancing act, so it was not the perfect preparation, but we made the best of it,” he said. 

“This match against the Bulls is very important for us. It’s not about winning really or the result, but it’s about getting an opportunity to play at a higher intensity in a tough game with proper collisions which will help set us up for the test against Portugal and the Africa Cup games in Uganda, which is actually our main focus. We want to be the best team in Africa behind South Africa obviously, because it will help us with qualification next year,” he added. 

“This year, it’s all about the local players and giving them the opportunity. To give you an example, Torsten (van Jaarsveld) and Louis (van der Westhuizen) have dominated the hooker position for the past few years, but now we want to give others a chance like Obert (Nortje), Armand (Combrinck) and Wicus (Jacobs) – it’s now their chance to step into the roles and make it their position,” he said. 

Last year the Welwitschias also played the Bulls as part of their preparation for the World Cup, losing 43-30, and although the Bulls’ squad for tomorrow’s match had not been announced by the time of going to press, Coetzee said he expected them to send a similar team. 

“The Bulls will definitely not come with a third or fourth-string side. Maybe not their full United Rugby Championship side, but if you look at players (who were here last year) like Zak Burger, Jaco van der Walt, Cornal Hendricks, Stravino Jacobs and Sergeal Petersen – they have played URC rugby and are experienced players,” he said. 

“We will be tested, but as I said, its not just about the result, but it’s about our preparation, how we cope with set-piece pressure from the Bulls, how we stop their mauls, and how we play at that intensity. It will provide a good barometer for us to see how far we have progressed and that’s what warm-up games are all about, so we are excited and looking forward to the match,” he added. 

The Namibian squad is as follows: 

Oela Blaauw, Nandi Karuuombe, Alcino Isaacs, Danco Burger, Lloyd Jacobs, Denzo Bruwer, Jacques Theron, Prince Gaoseb, Johan Retief, Peter Diergaardt, Ruan Ludick, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Renard Hattingh, Wicus Jacobs, Haitembu Shifuka. 

Substitutes: Herschelle van Wyk, Ian Klitzke, Chemigan Beukes, Armand Combrinck, Edward Drotsky, Diamando Tjombe, Viery Haufiku, Minyoi Kistings, AJ Kearns, Hillian Beukes, Quirione Majiedt, Lorenzo Louis, Shareave Titus.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News