Saracens loose-forward Jacques Burger will captain Namibia in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in England and will lead a squad where 14 of the 31 players selected have previous Rugby World Cup experience.
The squad was named in Windhoek late this week, following a four day training camp held in Durban, South Africa.
Burger is among four members of the squad that will be appearing in their third Rugby World Cup apperance, with prop Johnnie Redelinghuys, loose-forward Tinus du Plessis and scrum-half Eugene Jantjies also part of the team that participated in France 2007 and New Zealand 2011.
Redelinghuys is Namibia highest capped player of all time with 46 test matches to his credit.
Nine players, Raoul Larson, Rohan Kitshoff, PJ van Lill, Theuns Kotzè, Darryl de La Harpe, Danie van Wyk, Conrad Marais, David Philander and Chrysander Botha also did duty in New Zealand in 2011.
Another feature of the squad is the inclusion of three players under the age of 21 in hooker Louis van der Westhuizen, flank Wian Conradie and scrum-half Damian Stevens. The squad has an average of almost twenty test matches per player and an average age of just over 26.
Head Coach Phil Davies said the squad has a good combination of experienced players mixed with youthful exuberance.
“There’s a lot of things you have to consider when making a selection like this, the dynamics of the group is very important and I think we have a number of young, but inexperienced players whose exuberance is rubbing off on the more experienced players. I think it is the strongest group of players who we could have picked to select Namibia at the Rugby World Cup. There’s some good versatility and a big number of players are in good form as we showed recently when we won four test matches and moved up to number 20 on the world rankings,” he said.
“It was tough, we have good depth in the midfield, lots of talent in the back three, and also in our back-row. We do have some world class players in Jacques Burger and Renaldo Bothma among others, but in some areas were we lack a bit of depth. We are looking at developing some young players for the future in those positions,” said Davies.
“I feel the players that have put their hand up have been rewarded with selection. There’s a lot of courage and character and we will be doing everything to get that first ever elusive win at a Rugby World Cup. I am pleased with the dynamics of the players who are based in Namibia and those who play professionally. We couldn’t ask for a group that is more together, a more committed group,” he added.