THE Namibian rugby selectors have named a strong 28-man squad for the upcoming Nations Cup which takes place in Montevideo, Uruguay from 10 to 18 June.
The team, that will be captained by Blue Bulls loose forward Renaldo Bothma, consists of only 10 local-based players, who will be joined by 18 foreign-based players.
Its a fine mixture of youth and experience, with about half the team still under 25 years of age while several players are currently at universities or rugby academies in South Africa.
They include hooker Louis van der Westhuizen, centre Justin Newman and flanker Johan Retief, who all play for Potchefstroom University; lock Janco Venter and flanker Christo van der Merwe who both play for Western Province; loose forward Wian Conradie of the University of Johannesburg; centre Johan Deysel and scrum half Damian Stevens of the Sharks; as well as the 19-year-old fly half Cliven Loubser who is with the Sharks Academy.
The young Loubser, who captained Namibia u20 when they won the u20 Africa Cup in Madagascar last month, has clearly impressed the selectors and has been named as understudy to the experienced Theuns Kotze at fly half.
The experienced foreign-based players include several stalwarts from Namibia's 2015 World Cup campaign, like props Aranos Coetzee and Casper Viviers, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, lock Tjiuee Uanivi, eighthman PJ van Lill, wing Johann Tromp and fullback Chrysander Botha.
Coetzee and Van Jaarsveld have played regularly for the Cheetahs in the Super Rugby competition this year, while Tromp and Botha are on the books of the Southern Kings.
Viviers and Van Lill both played in France - Van Lill for the Premier League side Bayonne and Viviers for the third division side AC Bobigny, while Uanivi played for the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland, although he has since been released by the club.
The local-based players include experienced campaigners like scrum half Eugene Jantjies, fly half Theuns Kotze, centre Darryl de la Harpe, centre JC Greyling and prop AJ de Klerk, and upcoming youngsters like lock Ruan Ludick and wings Gino Wilson and Lesley Klim.
The team is coached by Phil Davies with Roger Thompson as defence coach and Chris Rossouw as the assistant back coach.
Danie von Solms is the team manager; Dafydd James is the strength and conditioning coach; Dominic le Roux is the monitoring and rehabilitation specialist; Stuart Lewis is the performance analyst; and Marc Beggs is the physiotherapist.
Namibia will play three matches at the Nations Cup, against Spain on 10 June, against Emerging Italy on 14 June; and against Russia on 18 June.
The Namibian squad is as follows:
Casper Viviers, AJ de Klerk, Collen Smith, Aranos Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Louis van der Westhuizen, Shaun du Preez, Tjiuee Uanivi, Janco Venter, Ruan Ludick, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Wian Conradie, PJ van Lill, Renaldo Bothma (captain), Johan Retief and Christo van der Merwe.
Eugene Jantjies, Damian Stevens, Theuns Kotze, Cliven Loubser, Darryl de la Harpe, JC Greyling, Justin Newman, Johan Deysel, Johan Tromp, Lesley Klim, Gino Wilson and Chrysander Botha.
The non-travelling players on standby are Andries Rousseau, Gerhard Lotter,
Muniovita Kasiringua, Leneve Damens, Cameron Klassen, MP Pretorius, Francois Wiese and David Philander.