All Blacks expects ‘battle-hardened’ Namibia

NEW Zealand scrum coach Greg Feek said on Tuesday his side expected Namibia’s pack to put up a tough fight in their Rugby World Cup meeting.

Despite being ranked 17 places below the All Blacks in the world, the Welwitschias boast Bayonne’s experienced hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld as well as four forwards who play in South Africa.

“They have a lot of players in their pack who used to play for the Cheetahs, even some in Europe,” Feek told reporters, looking ahead to Friday’s game in Toulouse.

“They will be battle-hardened. It will be a great test for us, we have a lot of respect for where they’re at now,” he added.

Both teams lost their openers.

Namibia fell 52-8 to Italy on Saturday. Three-time World Cup winners New Zealand are licking their wounds after last Friday’s 27-13 loss to hosts France.

Former test prop Feek denied morale was low after the All Blacks’ first-ever pool stage defeat.

Captain Sam Cane missed the match last week with a back problem and remains a doubt to play Namibia.

“He’s still around the boys, doing his thing,” Feek said.

“With the niggle he has, you have to be cautious.

“It’s a day by day thing. It’s wait and see for now,” he added.

This week former New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has returned to the set-up on an unofficial basis.

Hansen was assistant coach during the 2011 World Cup win. As head coach he led New Zealand as they retained the title four years later before guiding them to a third-place finish in 2019.

“He’s been putting his two cents in, not a really formal role. Just observing things,” hooker Dane Coles told reporters.

“He’s got a good, deep connection with a lot of players he’s coached before, you see that with the players and the smiles and the banter.

“It lifted the spirits a bit,” Coles added. − SuperSport.

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