THE Namibian rugby selectors have made three changes to the team that narrowly beat Zimbabwe 37-33 in the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Rugby last Saturday, for their final match against Spain on Saturday.
In a surprise move, Sergio de la Harpe replaces star fullback-cum-winger Chrysander Botha, who has been dropped from the team altogether, while veteran hooker Cor van Tonder and flanker Tinus du Plessis have been included in the pack of forwards.
Botha didn’t have a very good match against Zimbabwe while his indiscipline also put added pressure on the team. He was yellow carded and sent off for ten minutes towards the end of the first half, which allowed Zimbabwe to come back into the game.
During his absence, Zimbabwe scored two tries as they narrowed the gap to only one point to go into a 16-15 halftime deficit.
Namibia’s backline coach Walter Donn said that that they were intent on maintaining discipline in the team.
“We want to enforce discipline and build a team so each player will be scrutinised, it doesn’t matter how big they are. Chrysander did not have a good match, while Sergio had a good run when he came on as a substitute in the second half, so we have decided to start with him for Spain’s match,” he said.
Despite his indiscipline, Botha was still one of Namibia’s most creative players against Zimbabwe, scoring one try and nearly creating another for Justin Nel, and his attacking flair could be missed.
Hooker Van Tonder hasn’t played for Namibia for several years, but Donn said his experience would come to good stead against Spain.
“Cor only started playing again this year, but he will strengthen the scrum and we will need his experience against Spain,” he said.
Van Tonder replaces Rathony Bekker who made his debut against Zimbabwe, and although he was prominent in the loose, the whole Namibian pack of forwards struggled in the scrums against Zimbabwe, conceding several penalties as well as a penalty try. Donn however said he was satisfied with Bekker’s performance.
“Rathony did well against Zimbabwe, but we have made some technical changes amongst the forwards for the Spain match and we need to beef up the pack,” he said.
Experienced flanker Tinus du Plessis also returns to the team for the first time since he broke his arm in the 57-54 defeat to Madagascar in July.
Du Plessis, who plays professionally for Wasps in England, will add a lot of experience to the pack while his speed to the breakdown and solid defence will also come to good stead against Spain. Du Plessis captained Namibia against Madagascar, but fellow loose forward PJ van Lill retains the captaincy for Saturday’s match against Spain. Du Plessis replaces Munee Tjiueza who drops to the bench.
In other changes, Western Suburbs fullback Shaun Kaizemi and McGrath van Wyk, who plays in Romania, have been named amongst the substitutes, while Hannes Dursuwei Victor Rodrigues and Desmond Snyders have been dropped.
The Namibian squad is as follows:
Johnny Redelinghuys, Cor van Tonder, Andre Schlechter, Munovita Kasiringua, Stefan Neustadt, Tinus du Plessis, Renaud van Neel, PJ van Lill, Eugene Jantjies, Theuns Kotze, Sergio de la Harpe, Darryl de la Harpe, Danie van Wyk, Johan Tromp, Justin Nel.
Rathony Bekker, Collen Smith, Munee Tjiueza, Stef Botha, Arthur Bouwer, McGrath van Wyk, Shaun Kaizemi.