Welwitschias coach, Lyn Jones, believes his team will be the underdogs in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge match against the Hino Valke (Falcons) of South Africa at the Hage Geingob Stadium on Saturday.
The Welwitschias finished bottom in their pool last year nine points behind the Falcons, who ended second from bottom, in a group that was won by the Golden Lions.
Saturday’s match will be the second meeting between the Welwitschias and the Valke since last May, when the Namibian national rugby team beat the South African club 45-43 in their only victory in the competition.
The Valke dominated the second half in that match, and although they ultimately outscored the Welwitschias with seven tries to six, the accurate kicking boot of Theuns Kotzé proved the difference in the end.
Kotzé nailed six conversions and a penalty for a perfect record, while the Valke’s Christian Rust only succeeded with four conversion attempts.
This time around, the Welwitschias will be without Kotzé, who is currently in South Africa and is yet to decide on his rugby future.
Another notable absentee is Lesley Klim, who is playing professional rugby for Doncaster Knights in England.
The Super Sport Challenge is meant to give local amateur players a chance to play rugby at the highest level.
“We are expecting the first 20 minutes of the match to be a bit rusty due to lack of game time, since we did not play rugby after the Currie Cup First Division last year,” said Jones whose team only started training last week, after months of uncertainty surrounding his future.
The coach, however, believes that this will not affect his team’s performance on the day.
“We only started with full training last week, but I don’t think that this will be a big problem. I am not saying that we are fully fit, but all we need to do as a team is to jell and to play well.
“I think we can compete in the competition although we are not the favourites in the match and also in the competition,” Jones said.
The Welsh mentor said the SuperSport Rugby Challenge is important in Namibia’s quest for qualification to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“It will provide competition for the players that will be selected to represent the national team in the Gold Cup, a competition that is used as qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” Jones said.
“It also give us an opportunity to perform well in the Currie Cup in August this year.”
Western Province won the first edition of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge last year.