New Zealand are likely to take their Rugby World Cup frustrations out on Namibia in Friday night’s Pool A mismatch in Toulouse.
The All Blacks made a totally unfamiliar losing start to the tournament on opening evening, going down 27-13 to hosts France in an electric heavyweight showdown despite tries early in each half from wing Mark Telea. Remarkably, it was the three-time winners’ first-ever pool defeat at a World Cup.
While that was an obvious setback for Ian Foster’s Rugby Championship winners, they will still be very confident of reaching the quarter-finals as Pool A runners-up - barring any shock defeats for Les Bleus - with Namibia, Italy and Uruguay all now coming up.
New Zealand will be expected to win all three of those games emphatically, with their biggest victory likely to come on Friday.
Namibia made a competitive start in their opener against Italy in Saint-Etienne on Saturday, but saw hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld sin-binned for collapsing a maul.
Date, kick-off time and venue
New Zealand vs Namibia takes place on Friday September 15, 2023, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm BST and 9pm local time. The Stadium de Toulouse will host the game.
New Zealand vs Namibia team news
The All Blacks suffered a key blow ahead of kick-off against France, with captain Sam Cane a shock late withdrawal through injury as Foster was forced into a back-row reshuffle that included an unexpected start for Tupou Vaa’i.
Cane is set to miss out again this week, with centre Jordie Barrett, prop Tyrel Lomax and flanker Shannon Frizell also sidelined. Barrett is back in training after a knee problem, but is unlikely to be risked.
New Zealand have called up Ethan Blackadder to their squad since the loss to France, with Foster wanting to bolster his loose forward options after wing Emoni Narawa suffered a pre-tournament back injury that will see him play no part in the World Cup.
New Zealand vs Namibia lineups
Both Foster and Namibia head coach Allister Coetzee will name their matchday squads on Wednesday. Check back in then for the lineups in full.
New Zealand vs Namibia referee
Luke Pearce is the referee for Friday night’s match, supported by assistants Andrew Brace and Jordan Way. Brian MacNeice is the TMO.