South Africa captain Schalk Brits has warned his side not to underestimate Namibia and make sure they avoid another potential World Cup shock in Toyota. The Springboks are expected to have little trouble disposing of their African rivals in a second Pool B fixture on Saturday as they aim to bounce back from defeat by New Zealand.
However, having been part of the South Africa squad which suffered a seismic upset when beaten 34-32 by Japan in Brighton four years ago, the veteran former Saracens hooker will not allow any thoughts of complacency. “We are making sure we are up for it from a physical and mental point of view,” Brits said.
“I was involved in the group that lost against Japan, so I know the feeling – when you should win and don’t. From a team perspective, we have been training so hard this week – it was intense, and that is just the way we have prepared for it.”
Brits added: “We had a couple of learnings against New Zealand and we want to change a couple of things and focus on that. We didn’t know what team they were going to field. Hopefully we’ve learnt our lesson against New Zealand.”
Brits is set to roll back the clock and play at number eight against Namibia, while fly-half Faf de Klerk will be rested as part of sweeping changes to the starting team. The 38-year-old came out of retirement to help Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus move the squad forwards and now finds himself leader of the pack.
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“When Rassie spoke to me I was sipping cocktails in Ibiza… so far, it has been a great decision,” Brits said of his return to the international fold. “I have met new friends and we are on a growing path since last year June, and it is unbelievable to be a part of this group of players.
“To see a group of players coming through, and where we were 18 months ago and where we are now – it is an upward path. I still believe we can do wonderful things in this World Cup. We are a group that is learning quick.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 25, 2019
Namibia are ranked one place below Canada at 23rd in the world – with their squad including university students, a full-time banker, a brewery engineer and a qualified dentist. The 47-22 defeat by Italy in Higashiosaka means Namibia have lost all 20 of their World Cup matches to date and been on the receiving end of some of the tournament’s biggest thrashings.
Namibia wing PJ Walters, though, maintains the Welwitschias will be more than up for the challenge against one of rugby’s traditional heavyweights. “I don’t think any love will be lost,” he said. “We represent Africa together and it will be a great clash between the two countries as we are neighbours. It is going to be a great atmosphere and a big opportunity.”
– Press Association
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