Surprise package

Mahepisa Tjeriko, who made 11 appearances for the senior national rugby team, and announced his retirement days before the final 31-man squad for the Japan Rugby World Cup was announced, says he is behind the team all the way.

He is also adamant they can surprise in their first match at the tournament against Italy on 22 September.

Tjeriko said consistent injuries did not allow him to continue representing his country, which created an opening for other able players.

“The match will certainly be tough, because Italy play Six Nations rugby against tough opponents. They even managed to beat the Springboks (in 2016) – that’s the high level they are at.

“I think the best way for us to approach this match is by playing our best 15 players, and I believe head coach Phil Davies will go with that approach and make sure that whatever happens, the score is close,” Tjeriko said.

He said the group matches against New Zealand and South Africa will also be tough and that the coach should take it easy, and rather rest the best 15 for their last match against Canada.

“You won’t want to play the last match with tired players, so the tactic should be to go all-out for the first match, relax during the middle two and then definitely try and get a win against Canada,” he said.

Tjeriko added that Namibia has a great management team, with experienced fitness staff, who can talk any player into taking on any competition.

“We can do it and I wish the players the best of luck; they should enjoy themselves,” he added.

Grand send-off

The team will leave for Japan tomorrow.

Their official send-off by President Hage Geingob took place at State House yesterday.

Geingob, who is a sports lover, said the world will watch Namibians play against the best, and that they should not fear anything, as they are not heading to a small tournament.

“We are always put up against the best. Even if we are defeated, it isn’t the end of the world. You are exposing young boys to the world and how things are done. You beat everyone in Africa, except South Africa. You are number two. Show them you are underdogs, as you have nothing to lose.

“Don’t worry about anything, even if the All Blacks beat you, they will have to work to beat you,” Geingob said, while motivating the team.

Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) president Corrie Mensah added they will ask the big guns, big questions.

“We have a young team and will by all means try our level best when we meet our opponents,” he said.

The World Cup squad is as follows:

Forwards – Obert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Aranos Coetzee, AJ de Klerk, André Rademeyer, Desiderius Sethie, Nelius Theron, Johan Retief, Tjiuee Uanivi, PJ van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Wian Conradie, Thomasau Forbes, Prince Gaoseb, Max Katjijeko, Rohan Kitshoff and Janco Venter.

Backs – Helarius Kisting, Lesley Klim, PJ Walters, Chad Plato, Johann Tromp, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Justin Newman, Janry du Toit, Cliven Loubser, Eugene Jantjies and Damian Stevens.

Limba Mupetami