The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will be tested to the limit when they take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Officeconomix Goodwill Challenge at the Hage Geingob Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The match serves as preparation for the upcoming World Cup 2023 qualifiers in France and being made up mostly of home-based players it will afford an opportunity for the locals to stake a claim for the travelling group.
But they will face a formidable challenge against the Blue Bulls, who will provide a much sterner test than what they have experienced in the local league so far.
The Namibian squad was finalised yesterday, which features only one overseas-based player in lock forward Ruan Ludik, who recently returned from playing club rugby in France.
The squad includes eight players who have represented Namibia before, as well as five who were in the 2019 World Cup squad, namely Obert Nortje, Des Sethie, Prince Gaoseb, JC Greyling and Lesley Klim.
The rest consist of local-based players who have impressed in the local premier league so far this season.
Amongst the forwards, players like Johan Luttig and Wicus Jacobs of Grootfontein; Le Beau du Preez and Erik Strauss of Wanderers; and Cameron Langenhoven and Joshua Jacobs of Kudus have been in fine form in the premier league and now have a chance to stake their claims against tougher opposition.
Amongst the backs, up-and-coming players like United’s national u20 scrumhalf Oela Blaauw; Unam centre Alcino Isaacks, and Wanderers wing Warren Ludwig deserve a chance at a higher level, as does Wanderers flyhalf Andre van der Berg, who has been in great form with the boot this season.
The Welwitschias’ caretaker coach Chrysander Botha yesterday expressed satisfaction with their preparations.
“The squad trained together for the first time this week when the Grootfontein and Kudus players joined us. But we don’t want to do too much now, we just want to keep things simple and focus on the basics,” he said.
The Blue Bulls are the defending Currie Cup champions and although they won’t be sending their first-choice team, they have selected an exciting squad of upcoming players, including the likes of hooker Sydney Tobias, the son of legendary Springbok Errol Tobias; fullback Richard Kriel and eighthman Muller Uys, who has represented the Bulls in Super Rugby.
The Bulls are traditionally known for their forward power, but Botha expressed confidence in his pack of forwards.
“We are expecting a tough forward battle against the Bulls, but we have selected a strong pack – we have gone for size and physicality, so that we can compete for possession up front,” he said.
“The Bulls have selected a young team, but there are some exciting players in the mix – they will provide a great test and it should be a great match,” he added.
The match starts at 16h00, but it will be preceded by several other matches, featuring u14 and u19 school teams from 09h00 on, and a women’s rugby match between Grootfontein and Okahandja Huskies at 15h00.
During halftime of the main match, a drop-kick competition with 10 contestants randomly drawn from the crowd will be held, where the winner will walk away with a Nissan Magnite to the value of N$300 000.
The entrance fee is N$40 per person, while tickets are available at webtickets.com.na