Pool D preview: Wales v Namibia
There is just no doubt about the outcome of the Rugby World Cup's Pool D match between Wales and Namibia to be played in New Plymouth in the southwest corner of the North Island on Monday evening. Wales will win it and by a long way.
Cut and dried though the result is, ask any one of those Namibians if he would be glad to play the match and he will shout a loud "Yes".
It is a wonderful opportunity for the men from the big, empty country, almost all of whom are humble club players.
In fact, veteran prop Jané du Toit plays for the second team of the Villagers club in Cape Town, not a strong playing club these days. They will play against mighty professional players but as Marius Tincu of Romania reminded the world after defeat at the hands of England, they will be proud to be there, men who play rugby for happiness.
The teams have met before in the days when the white-legged Welsh were amateurs on the hard grounds of Windhoek. Then Namibia did well, but since then professionalism has made the difference between such teams into a gulf.
Still the Men in Blue, the Welwitchias or Biltongboere, will give of their best, as long as they have tough Jacques Burger (of Saracens fame) to lead them, an uncompromising sportsman who insists that his team will be out there in a positive, energetic frame of mind.
Wales have changed 11 for the match, not that it matters all that much but there are some interesting returnees.
Players to Watch:
For Wales: Stephen Jones at flyhalf, who is at his fourth World Cup, and Lee Byrne at fullback are both accomplished players heading back from injury and their progress will be interesting. Flank Ryan Jones, once the captain of Wales, is in something of the same category. Leigh Halfpenny will be worth watching. Remember his astonishing try-bearing run against Samoa?
For Namibia: Namibia has an exciting fullback in Chrysander Botha, clever flyhalf Theuns Kotze and three excellent loose forwards in Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Jacques Burger and Tinus du Plessis.
Head to Head: Strong Jonathan Davies against strong Piet van Zyl, veteran Stephen Jones against rookie Theuns Kotze and above all the battle between the two loose trios - Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Jacques Burger and Tinus du Plessis against Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton and Ryan Jones. Given a fair chance the Namibian trio could give a really good account of themselves.
1993: Wales won 38-23 in Windhoek
1990: Wales won 34-30 in Windhoek
1990: Wales won 18-9 in Windhoek
Prediction: Wales will win. It's a question of by how much. Would we be too niggardly to say: By more than 30 points? Much may depend on the mood the Namibians have been in since the Springboks scored so heavily against them.
Wales: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Luke Charteris, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Lloyd Williams, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 George North.
Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Danie van Wyk, 13 Piet van Zyl, 12 Darryl de La Harpe, 11 Danie Dames, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Jacques Nieuwenhuis, 7 Jacques Burger (captain), 6 Tinus du Plessis, 5 Nico Esterhuyse, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Jané du Toit, 2 Hugo Horn, 1 Johnnie Redelinghuys.
Replacements: 16 Bertus O’Callaghan, 17 Raoul Larson, 18 Wacca Kazombiaze, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Ryan de la Harpe, 21 TC Losper, 22 David Philander.
Date: Monday, September 26
Kick-off: 19.30 (06.30 GMT)
Venue: Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth
Expected weather conditions: Partly cloudy but clearing with a high of 14°C, dropping to 7°C.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)