Samoa start their 2011 World Cup campaign against Namibia in a Pool D clash at Rotorua International Stadium on Wednesday.
Samoa start their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign against Namibia in a Pool D clash at Rotorua International Stadium on Wednesday.
While Samoa will start this match as favourites, Namibia showed in their opening match against Fiji that they can hold their own against higher ranked teams.
Despite losing that match 49-25, Namibia didn't disgrace themselves but they will have to improve considerably if they want to beat Samoa.
Captain Jacques Burger is an experienced campaigner who gives everything for the cause but even he will admit that this is a daunting task against a Samoan side whose players are regular starters for sides in some of the world's top competitions.
Namibia's coach Johan Diergaardt has made three changes to his starting XV.
The most interesting of those being the introduction of PJ van Lill at number eight for Jacques Nieuwenhuis, who shifts to the side of the scrum.
This means that Tinus du Plessis, who started on the flank against Fiji, is dropped from the 22 along with wing Conrad Marais, who is replaced by Llewellyn Winkler.
In the other change, Henk Franken earns his first cap at the expense of Nico Esterhuyse who moves to the bench.
“The number 8 (van Lill) that is in now is an excellent ball carrier, and the wing (Winkler) he (Diergaardt) brought in is really quick and can use his speed. On the kick chases we want to force (Samoa),” said Nieuwenhuis.
Samoa boast a talented bunch of players and are serious contenders to win this pool and qualify for the quarter-finals.
They have always relied on their physicality to win them matches so don't expect them to deviate from this plan.
Although Namibia did well against Fiji in the physical battle they know they will not be able to do the same against the Samoans who thrive on this aspect of the game.
Samoa have picked a powerful line-up, yet they can still afford to leave front-rowers Census Johnston and Ti'i Paulo, who are first choice-players at Toulouse and Clermont-Auvergne respectively, on the bench.
Samoa's players will be highly-motivated after missing the World Cup's opening round of fixtures and captain and hooker Mahonri Schwalger said the team can't wait to get stuck into the Namibians.
“Some of the guys have been watching a lot of rugby the last couple of days, and they're pretty keen to get out there,” said Schwalger.
While they are excited about Wednesday's match Schwalger denied they are having to tone down training or hold anyone back
“The boys know what they have to do,” he said.
“They just want to go out and execute.”
Players to watch:
For Namibia: Fly-half Theuns Kotze wrote himself into the record books when he scored 15 points in the match against Fiji last week. This is the highest individual score by a Namibian at a World Cup. Nine of those points came via three drop-goals and he also impressed when attacking the advantage line. Kotze is one of several Namibians who are using the World Cup to showcase their talents with the hope of a foreign club signing them on a professional basis. If he can replicate his form from the Fiji match against Samoa, and for the rest of the pool matches, he could be playing outside Namibia after the World Cup.
For Samoa: There are several Samoans to keep an eye on but look out for left wing Alesana Tuilagi. The Leicester Tigers stalwart is one of the most dangerous backs in the Aviva Premiership with ball in hand. He combines pace and power on attack and is a fearless tackler on defence.
Head-to-head: Namibia's new back-row of Jacques Burger, Jacques Nieuwenhuis and PJ van Lill go up against a formidable combination in George Stowers, Maurie Faasavalu, Taiasina Tuifua. The battle for the loose ball always plays a huge role in any match but Namibia's trio will have to be at their best if they want to match their counterparts' physical intensity for 80 minutes.
2003: Samoa won 40-13 in Windhoek
Prediction: Although Namibia did well to hold their own for large periods of the match against Fiji, don't expect the same to happen in this clash. Samoa have too much class across the park and this could be the first match of the tournament where a team scores 50 points. Samoa by 40 points.
Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 George Pisi, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Alesani Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Faasavalu, 6 Taiasina Tuifua, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (capt), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Ofisa Treviranus, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono, 22 Tasesa Lavea.
Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Danie van Wyk, 12 Piet van Zyl, 11 Llewellyn Winkler, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Pieter Jan van Lill, 7 Jacques Burger (capt), 6 Jacques Nieuwenhuis; 5 Henk Franken, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Raoul Larson, 2 Hugo Horn, 1 Johnnie Redelinghuys.
Replacements: 16 Bertus O'Callaghan, 17 Jane du Toit, 18 Nico Esterhuyse, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Ryan de la Harpe, 21 Darryl de la Harpe, 22 TC Losper.
Date: Wednesday, September 14
Venue: Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Kick-off: 15:30 (03:30 GMT)
Weather: Showers expected with a westerly wind blowing. Day time high: 14Â°C
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), JerÃ´me Garces (France)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)
By David Skippers