Namibia coach Allister Coetzee has urged his players to use Friday night’s Group A encounter against New Zealand as an opportunity to improve their rugby skills.
The African minnows – who are still looking for their first World Cup victory in six tournament appearances – come into the match on the back of a heavy defeat to Italy on the opening day.
“We knew going into the draw that we would struggle to get into a pool of high quality teams like Italy, New Zealand and France,” Coetzee said.
“But it’s not something that scares us. It’s something that excites us.
“It’s a great opportunity for our players,” added the 60-year-old South African.
“We are really excited to play against the best in the world.
“We are trying to grow as a team and as individuals, so we need to use this game as an experience to develop our game.”
New Zealand coach Ian Foster made nine starting changes for the draw at Stade de Toulouse, with Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Dalton Papali’i, Ardie Savea, Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown all retaining their places.
“I’m happy to see New Zealand are taking this game seriously,” Coetzee added.
“They have selected a quality team and it is good for the Rugby World Cup that the leading teams do not present understrength teams.”
Foster’s decision should result in another big defeat for the Namibians who will face France next Thursday in Marseille.
“It was 31-8 to Italy in the 73rd minute,” Coetzee recalls of his team’s opening match at Saint-Etienne.
“We conceded three tries in the last eight minutes of the match which blew up the score.
“But overall, I think we threw a few punches against Italy… we just need to throw a few more punches because we’re not here to punch a bag.
“We have a plan and even when the pressure is on, my players have to execute the plan. It’s going to be a challenge but we are ready for it.”
New Zealand defense coach Scott McLeod said his team expected a direct approach from the Namibians.
“If you look at the type of people they are and where they come from – mostly agricultural backgrounds… we know we’re going to have a physical battle.”
New Zealand will try to make up for their defeat against France on the first day, September 8 at the Stade de France. The defeat came after being beaten by South Africa in their final warm-up match for the competition.
“Losing is not ideal,” New Zealand forward Luke Jacobsen said. “This is not what we want or intend to do.
“We didn’t achieve everything we wanted to do against France, but the good thing is we’re in a tournament. We have one more game and it’s time to improve.”