PREVIEW: All Blacks v Namibia (Rugby World Cup 2023)
Toulouse is the home of France's aerospace industry, but the All Blacks will be looking to be high-flyers when meeting Namibia in their Rugby World Cup pool game on Saturday.
MATCH DETAILS: New Zealand v Namibia, September 16, 2023, 7 am (NZT).
Won: New Zealand 2, Namibia 0
Last time: All Blacks 71-9 Namibia, October 6, 2019, Ajinomoto Stadium, Chofu
Referee: Luke Pearce
New Zealand comes into the game having suffered consecutive losses to South Africa 7-35 and France 13-27, while Namibia lost its first Cup game to Italy 8-51. In its warm-up games, it lost to an Argentina XV 27-34, to Uruguay 18-26, beat Chile 28-26 and lost to the Bulls 30-43.
FIRST 50 LOOMING
A win to the All Blacks over Namibia would be their 50th in Rugby World Cups, more than any other side. In their two earlier games with Namibia, the All Blacks have scored 20 tries – 10 a game. Last week's loss to France in Paris was not only the first time the All Blacks lost a World Cup pool game but also the second time they failed to score 20 points in a pool game. The other occasion was the 18-12 win over England in 1991. In Toulouse, there is a need for improved discipline, especially when Namibia is within goal-kicking range. Against France, the All Blacks conceded five penalty goals, which was more than the three they conceded in their first five Tests of the year. During the Rugby Championship this year, the All Blacks conceded only one scrum penalty, but two penalties and a free-kick were conceded against France. Their kicking statistics against the French were also revealing. Whereas they averaged 23 kicks per game in the Championship this year, they made 39, with only five of their 17 attacking kicks retained. Their eight 'bomb' kicks were second only to England's 12 in the first round, and only one was retained.
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Namibia is still looking for their first win after seven Rugby World Cup appearances. They are one of six teams that have yet to win. The others are Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Spain, Portugal and Russia. However, they did lose by one point to Georgia in 2015. They go into the All Blacks match, having been within nine points of Italy at halftime in last week's game. But, they were second equal in penalties conceded in the first round, with 13, 10 on defence. Namibia had 52 per cent of territory against Italy and got into their 22 nine times but could score only once. They conceded the most line breaks of any team, 14. And 30 per cent of their missed tackles were within their 22m area. Five players will be playing the All Blacks for the third time: captain and centre Johan Deysel, prop Johan Coetzee, lock Tjuee Uanivi, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld and if JC Greyling is used off the bench. No8 Richard Hardwick will be a familiar face, having played Super Rugby for the Force and Rebels since 2016. He scored three tries against New Zealand teams this year. He has played two Tests for Australia.
Deysel is the only Namibian player to have scored a try against the All Blacks. He achieved the feat in their 2015 loss at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Watch out for the sixth minute. That's when the All Blacks scored their first try in their 2015 and 2019 outings against Namibia. Loose forward Victor Vito scored in 2015, and wing Sevu Reece scored in 2019.
All Blacks (Test caps in brackets)
1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (54) 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (26) 3. Nepo Laulala (50) 4. Brodie Retallick (104) 5. Samuel Whitelock (147) 6. Luke Jacobson (16) 7. Dalton Papali’i (27) 8. Ardie Savea (c) (76) 9. Cam Roigard (2) 10. Damian McKenzie (42) 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku (4) 12. David Havili (26) 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (64) 14. Caleb Clarke (18) 15. Beauden Barrett (117)
Reserves: 16. Dane Coles (87) 17. Ethan de Groot (18) 18. Fletcher Newell (9) 19. Scott Barrett (63) 20. Tupou Vaa’i (23) 21. Aaron Smith (120) 22. Richie Mo’unga (50) 23. Rieko Ioane (64)
1 Jason Benade 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld 3 Johan Coetzee 4 Johan Retief 5 Tjiuee Uanivi 6 Wian Conradie 7 Prince Gaoseb 8 Richard Hardwick 9 Damian Stevens 10 Tiaan Swanepoel 11 Divan Rossouw 12 Le Roux Malan 13 Johan Deysel (c) 14 Gerswin Mouton 15 Cliven Loubser
Reserves: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen 17 Desiderius Sethie18 Haitembu Shifuka 19 PJ Van Lill 20 Adriaan Booysen 21 Max Katjijeko 22 Jacques Theron 23 JC Greyling