ZIMBABWE’S flagship rugby side, the Sables, will have to be at their best during next week’s Windhoek Draught Tri-Nations Rugby Series after their main rivals Namibia named a vastly experienced side for the tournament.
The Sables will tackle Namibia in the opening Test match of the tri-nations series to be held at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek next Friday.
The match which kicks off at 8pm, will be officiated by experienced South African referee Jonathan Kaplan.
Namibia, one of the Sables’ fiercest rivals on the continent and a serious threat to their 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) ambitions, are taking part in the series which will also feature African champions Kenya.
According to The Namibian newspaper, the Namibia squad will have several of their key players available for the tournament, with the likes of André Schlechter, Jaco Engels, Tinus du Plessis, Rohan Kitshoff, Eugene Jantjies, Darryl de la Harpe, Sergio de la Harpe, Theuns Kotze, Heinrich Smit and Chrysander Botha all available for selection.
Commenting on the squad, Namibia Rugby Union chief executive officer Sybrand de Beer said they were looking for continuity ahead of next year’s final round of qualification matches for the 2015 RWC.
“We want to keep the consistency in the team and build with the senior players to provide confidence and exposure to the younger players in the squad. The team is preparing to win the CAR 1A tournament in 2014 and to participate in Rugby World Cup 2015 in London. The mind-set is thus to get the right team together and prepare to win our first game at a RWC,” de Beer said.
Zimbabwe, who will start camp in Bulawayo today are expected to arrive in Windhoek on November 6 to acclimatise ahead of the opening Test of the series against Namibia on November 8.
Namibia hold the advantage over their rivals, having beaten Zimbabwe 37-33 the last time they met in the series in November 2012.
Meanwhile, Kenya will arrive in Windhoek on November 10. Their first match in the series will be against the Sables on November 12 at 8pm.
Zimbabwe on the other hand, would like to avenge their loss in a match that promises to provide top quality rugby, as both teams are known for their Sevens format skills and hard-running rugby. Jacky Hussellmann, Namibia’s number one referee, will officiate this match.
The last match of the series will be played between Namibia and Kenya on November 16 with the kick-off set for 5:15pm.