Former Namibian under 20 players, scrum-half Damien Stevens and loose-forward Wian Conradie will make their senior debuts against Kenya in Windhoek on Saturday in the Africa Cup 1A international series.
Conradie, who did duty for Namibia at the IRB Junior Trophy Tournament in Hong Kong last year, and Stevens, who represented Namibia at the Junior World Trophy in Portugal this year, are the only new caps in the matchday 22 named by Head Coach Phil Davies.
The Walvis Bay-born Stevens has been knocking hard on the door of senior honours after an outstanding season for the University of Western Cape in South Africa’s Varsity Shield Competition.
"He is an exciting young talent and has a great future in front of him in a Namibian jersey. He has an exceptional pass and very quick around the field with an effective kicking game," said Davies on the inclusion of Stevens.
Conradie also excelled for the University of Johannesburg in the Varsity Cup Competition and was rewarded with a call-up to the senior side where he will do duty on the side of the scrum.
"We are really excited about his pace and power around the field, he carries well and is a fearsome defender," remarked Davies on the inclusion of Conrad.
Wanderers loose-forward Leneve Damens also returns to the national line-up to earn his third cap for his country. In addition to Conradie and Stevens, prop AJ de Klerk and centre Heinrich Smit have also been handed their first start in the home test matches.
France-based Johannes Coetzee and PJ van Lill have both returned to Windhoek and along with 44-test veteran Johnnie Redelinghuys will be in the match day 22 for the first time since the team returned from the Nations Cup in Romania.
Saturday’s match will be Namibia’s penultimate international in their extensive campaign to prepare for the Rugby World Cup in England.
It will be the 8th meeting between the two countries of which Namibia have won 6. It will also be the first match since Kenya’s 29-22 win over Namibia in the Rugby World Cup Qualification tournament in Madagascar in June last year.
Zimbabwe currently lead the Africa Cup 1A standings after victories over Tunisia and Kenya respectively. Kenya defeated Tunisia 46-15 but lost to Zimbabwe 20-28.
The Zimbabweans also beat Tunisia 19-8 in Harare. In their only Africa Cup match so far this year Namibia defeated Tunisia 22-14 in Nabeul.
Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 David Philander, 13 Heinrich Smit, 12 Darryl de la Harpe, 11 Conrad Marais, 10 Theuns Kotzè, 9 Damien Stevens, 8 Leneve Damens, 7 Wian Conradie, 6 Jacques Burger (c), 5 Janco Venter, 4 Tjiuee Uanivi, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements: 16 DG. Wiese, 17 Johannes Coetzee, 18 Johnnie Redelinghuys, 19 Renaldo Bothma, 20 PJ van Lill, 21 Eugene Jantjies, 22 Johan Tromp.