Welwitschias ready for the Russians… Esterhuyse, Buitendag out with injuries

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Windhoek

Namibia Rugby Union Director of Rugby, John Williams yesterday expressed satisfaction with the way in which the national team’s young players are tapping wisdom from their seniors.

The national senior rugby team, the Welwitschias, is set to lock horns tomorrow with Russia in one of their two test games at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek. The second match will be played on July 18 at the same venue.

After the two test matches against Russia, Namibia will engage Kenya on August 8 and then Zimbabwe on August 15.

These matches form part of Namibia’s preparation for this year’s International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby World Cup that will be held in England in September.

“We’ve had a few training sessions and I really have to say I’m satisfied with the overall spirit in the camp and the players’ attitude. At the moment we have close to 50 players in the training camp and one very positive thing that I’ve observed is the pace at which our youngsters are learning from their seniors. It’s just great,” said Williams.

“Our plan is obviously to get a good result against the Russians, but we also want make sure most guys get a chance to play as well. We have more than 20 foreign-based players in the camp and others are locals, so it will be very important for us to strike a good balance in terms of selection and making sure that the youngsters also get the needed exposure.”

On the injury list, lock Nico Esterhuyse and scrumhalf Eneill Buitendag have been forced to withdraw from tomorrow’s clash due to niggling injuries. The 33-test veteran, Esterhuyse suffered a calf strain during Tuesday evening’s training session and was automatically ruled out of the first test against the Russians. He will be replaced by University of Stellenbosch forward, Janco Venter, who will earn his fifth test cap for Namibia.

Buitendag, with 12 test caps, would have started the test match from the bench, but slipped at training on Wednesday evening and suffered a hamstring strain and will be replaced by Arthur Bouwer. The two injured players will be assessed early next week to determine their availability for the second test against Russia.

The team to face Russia tomorrow is as follows: Johan Tromp, David Philander, Danie van Wyk, Johan Deysel, Russel van Wyk, Theuns Kotzè, Eugene Jantjies, Thinus du Plessis, Thomasua Forbes, Jacques Burger (Capt), Janco Venter, Tjiuee Uanivi, Casper Viviers, DG.Wiese, Jaco Engels, Replacements. Torsten van Jaarsveld, Raoul Larson, AJ de Klerk, Renaldo Bothma, Rohan Kitshoff, Arthur Bouwer, JC Greyling, Chrysander Botha.

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