Jacques Burger
Jacques Burger is burdened with leading the Namibia team Getty Images

World champions New Zealand return against the lowest ranked team in the tournament, Namibia, who are seeking their first ever win in the competition's history.

Where to watch

New Zealand vs Namibia kicks off at 8pm BST on Thursday 24 September. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio 5 Live.


Though the early pool matches at the Rugby World Cup suggest otherwise, the meeting between the teams ranked first and 20<sup>th in the world rankings could be the first genuine one-sided encounter in the 2015 tournament. While the All Blacks are the most famous rugby institution in the world, Namibia head into their opening game of the tournament looking for their first win at the 16<sup>th time of asking.

Having conceded over a thousand points across their four tournament appearances, including a record 142 unanswered points against Australia in 2003, Namibia have good reason to fear they could again be the whipping boys of the competition, starting against the most daunting of opposition. In among a team of amateurs who will return to their day jobs after the competition ends, there is one genuine world-class player in the form of Saracens' Jacques Burger, who by no exaggeration holds the hopes of a nation on his broad shoulders.

What should help Namibia to avoid humiliation at the hands of New Zealand is the XV selected by Steve Hansen after the hard-fought victory over Argentina. Twelve changes have been made and while it gives the Kiwis 660 caps worth of experience on the bench, it does at the very least weaken them. Sam Cane comes in to captain the team in the absence of Richie McCaw in a look at the future beyond this tournament.

Sam Cane
Sam Cane captains New Zealand for the first time in place of Richie McCaw Getty Images

Should the clash be in keeping with the rest of an exhilarating tournament then Namibia should be able to hold their own, even if the result is inevitable. New Zealand can play with freedom having come through the test against Argentina with flying colours and will be looking to thrill at the Olympic Stadium.


New Zealand: 15. Colin Slade, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 1. Ben Franks, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Victor Vito

Replacements: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Tony Woodcock, 19. Kieran Read, 20. Richie McCaw, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Ma'a Nonu, 23. Ben Smith

Namibia: 15. Johan Tromp; 14. David Philander, 13. JC Greyling, 12. Johan Deysel, 11. Conrad Marais; 10. Theuns Kotze, 9. Eugene Jantjies; 1. Jaco Engels, 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld, 3. Johannes Coetzee, 4. Tjiuee Uanivi, 5. Pieter-Jan van Lill, 6. Jacques Burger, 7. Tinus du Plessis, 8. Leneve Damens.

Replacements: 16. Louis van der Westhuizen, 17. Casper Viviers, 18. Raoul Larson, 19. Renaldo Bothma, 20. Janco Venter, 21. Rohan Kitshoff, 22. Eneill Buitendag, 23. Chrysander Botha.

What the coaches say

Steve Hansen: "[Cane] is a good leader and the most important part of leadership is playing well. He does that good. He's got a reasonably tricky job in the team in following the skipper, but whenever he gets his opportunity he plays well and that's important.

"He's got a good rugby brain and is happy to voice his opinions, to lead by example and lead by voice. He is young. There are other guys we could have chosen in the pack and backs, but we thought we would look to the future and give it to someone who we believe in a lot and who has the ability to captain them in the future.

"He has led the Chiefs and led them well. Speaking to guys at the Chiefs, they've been very happy with how he has led. I think he's got the right temperament and playing skills.

"I just thought he was a pretty special player. It is an overwhelming place to come into the All Blacks. Special players sometimes don't make it but he had the mental fortitude and he thrived in the environment. After a while, we thought he was capable of being a leader so we put him in the leadership group and he's done a good job there."

Australia vs Namibia
Australia put 142 points in Namibia in 2003 in the heaviest World Cup defeat ever recorded Getty Images

Phil Davies: "It's a phenomenal opportunity for the players, who've worked so hard to become one unit with great spirit. It will be a proud day for us all to see all the boys stood there singing the national anthem, then facing the haka. It's quite inspiring. It's the best start we could have had, I think. We've always got that belief. That belief is there but for us, it's about attending to the processes we've put in place. We think we're well-prepared and hopefully a result will come out of that.

"We started our preparations in earnest in July after the change of coaches. We had a good summer series with some good results against Russia, which is really pleasing because they were a side ranked above us before the series so we were really pleased with that. The progress we've made has been pretty good and we land here today in a pretty good place with some clear goals and objectives and to enjoy the experience.

"I think we've created a clear way of playing which suits the Namibian style of rugby. I think we've got good momentum and we'll see next week when the pressure comes on. The evidence so far in our previous four games is that we look structured and organised but there's an ability also for the players to use their flair and counter-attacking ability, which is what Namibian rugby is famous for."