x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Gatland puts onus on Wales to impress against Namibia

Warren Gatland has promised Wales will take the threat of Namibia seriously in today's Pool B clash.

NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand // The next-day scenarios for Wales and Namibia could not be any different following their Rugby World Cup match today at Stadium Taranaki.

The Welsh, 17-16 losers to South Africa and 17-10 winners over Samoa, hope to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot in Pool D.

Namibia, winless in three games and the victims of a harsh, short turnaround schedule, will be packing their bags to head back to southern Africa.

If Wales win big, as expected, they will still have to beat Fiji next weekend and hope that the Springboks, the defending champions, do their part by beating second-place Samoa.

Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, made 11 changes from the side that faced Samoa for a match that will see Stephen Jones, the fly-half, play his 101st Test.

"We're not taking Namibia lightly in any way," Gatland said yesterday.

"For the players who take the field it is important that they put us coaches and selectors under pressure, so that they are in contention for the game against Fiji."

Sam Warburton, the Wales captain and flanker, has an injured knee but plans to lead the players on to the field.

"I want to play every game, definitely," Warburton said. "I've had a few injuries so far in my career and I feel like the best I have so far fitness-wise, so I like to play as much as I can."

Namibia are coming off an 87-0 pounding from the Springboks, but Jacques Burger, the captain, said morale was still high.

"It is a tough group, and I think we had the worst draw of everyone," Burger said. "But as a team we've just had to deal with that and forget it. We're not here to complain."

But Burger has every reason to complain. Namibia lost 49-25 to Fiji on September 10, had three days off before losing to Samoa 49-12, then faced the Springboks six days later. That is three matches in 12 days, followed by three days off before the Wales game