Welwitschias coach Chrysander Botha says his charges are on the right track based on their performance at the ongoing Mzansi Challenge Cup.
Speaking to New Era Sport yesterday, the former Namibia National Team Winger says the team has done well as evidenced by two victories over Zimbabwe Goshawks and Kenyan Simba’s, while a few matches against South African Provincial sides prove the team has come of age.
“We have done well. We played good opposition. There has been a lot of learning and development. Opportunities are endless for the local boys, who have sacrificed a lot,” Botha said.
He said it was difficult to single out one player from the team as a standout because everyone has put in a huge effort, but he praised youngster Mapisa Tjeripo, who recently returned to rugby, following a three-year absence – and he has so far played seven out of the eight games.
“Johan Luttig, for his ability to play different positions; Max Katjiteo and Prince Goaseb have been fantastic playing 80 minutes almost the entire challenge. At the back, Andre van de Burg was exceptional before his injury – and Danko Burger, who is now playing number 10 for us, as well as Gershan Mouton’s attacking prowess are some of the guys who can be highlighted as key players in the team,” he said.
Botha said the tournament has taught them to trust their systems, as well as to create and take opportunities during the build-up of play, which will enable them to win matches.
He said physically, they are matching their opponents and the experience they receive from this competition allows the local players to play a lot of rugby.
“The importance of this tournament cannot be underestimated because it helps us prepare for the world cup and also allow us to plan early for the Mzansi Challenge next year, especially the physical and logistical aspect of the tournament,” he said.
Botha said the tournament gives Namibian players their first taste of international rugby, which is a good foundation for them to challenge for positions in the team that will go to France. “It is a great tournament, which helps us, as a rugby-playing nation, to develop and expose our players. They learn a lot by competing at these levels. We, as coaches, also learn a lot from our colleagues – and this is a positive tournament for Namibia,” Botha concluded.
The Namibians currently sit on position eight out of 10 teams, having won two out of eight matches played so far. The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will play Eastern Province on 3 June 2023 at Hage Geingob Stadium.