Namibia relish All Black challenge, coach says

Namibia face the most demanding schedule of all the teams participating in the tournament in England — four group matches in 17 days — but are taking on the challenge with enthusiasm, the former Welsh international said in an interview with Reuters.

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“They want to go and face up to the challenge. They want to do the very best they can there. We know what we are up against, we know we aren’t going to win the game,” he said of the opening Group C encounter against the All Blacks at Wembley on Sept. 24.

“It’s a case of us playing to our maximum and that’s all we can ask for.

“The players and staff have worked exceptionally hard over the last seven weeks to get us to a level to achieve an 80-minute performance.

“It’s always going to be challenging with a group of players that has just a few full-time professionals but that has been absolutely our top priority and we feel now we’ve got a 23-man squad we can put out each game and who, over the course of 80 minutes, will be able to perform.”

Namibia also play Tonga on Sept. 29, Georgia on Oct. 7 and Argentina four days later.

‘FANTASTIC ATTITUDE’

Davies, 51, joined Namibia last October as a technical advisor and took over as coach in June after the surprise sacking of Danie Vermeulen. He says he cannot fault the attitude of the players from the southern African nation.

“That’s been really evident from the start, the excitement. The attitude of these lads, who want to represent their country well at the World Cup, is fantastic and this has been really energising for the coaching staff.”

Namibia have played several low-key internationals in recent weeks to prepare but whether Kenya, Russia and Zimbabwe have been of the requisite quality is a question Davies sidesteps.

“Key for us with the performances has been concentrating on ourselves and working on our systems and getting processes in place.”

His own appointment had gone smoothly, he added. “A lot of the structures and planning had been done already. Since I’ve taken over as coach, I’ve tried to support and help and grow the systems that were already there. It’s not been ideal but it’s also not been a difficult transition.”

He said Namibia represented ‘going back to the old values’ of the game. “The majority of the squad have full-time jobs and have to fit their training around that in the way we used to in the amateur era.”

Davies won 46 caps for Wales, including playing six matches at the World Cups in 1987 and 1991. His coaching career including spells at Leeds Tykes, Scarlets, Worcester Warriors and Cardiff Blues.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)