Namibia scrum-half Eugene Jantjies is in line to feature at a fourth Rugby World Cup after he was included in a 50-man preliminary squad ahead of Japan 2019.
Jantjies, who has won 67 caps for the Welwitschias, made his Rugby World Cup debut against Ireland in Bordeaux 12 years ago and has appeared in all but one of his nation’s matches at the quadrennial tournament since.
He is one of five players in the training squad who also appeared at New Zealand 2011, alongside Chrysander Botha, Darryl de la Harpe, Rohan Kitshoff and PJ van Lill. A further 13 players have been included who represented Namibia at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
“I am very positive [about] the group of players that we now have and that they will take it far,” Namibia Rugby Union President Edward Mensah said.
“One should also consider that there are other players still to come from outside as well as certain players that need to return from injury who all stand a chance to make their mark and to return to take their rightful places in the team.
“It will not be easy because these guys as I have noticed are very determined. Those that were on the tour at the Nations Cup [are] dead set on maintaining those positions and to fight for their life to end up in the final 31-man squad for the World Cup.”
Namibia are preparing to appear at a sixth successive Rugby World Cup but have yet to claim their first tournament victory in 19 attempts.
In England four years ago, the Welwitschias lost to Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga but picked up their first ever Rugby World Cup point in a narrow 17-16 defeat to Georgia in Exeter.
In preparation for Japan 2019, Namibia appeared at World Rugby Nations Cup 2019 in Uruguay earlier this month where they beat the hosts but lost to Russia and Argentina XV.
The Welwitschias will play up to three warm-up matches against as yet unconfirmed opponents prior to their departure for Japan. Namibia will meet New Zealand for a second time at Rugby World Cup 2019, where they have also been drawn against neighbours South Africa, Italy and Canada in Pool B.
“I would first of all like to thank World Rugby for a wonderful opportunity which allowed us to explore and establish our own destiny on route to the 2019 World Cup,” Mensah said.
“I am very proud of my team that not only came to compete, but we also measured ourselves in terms of our readiness to compete with tier one countries.”
Forwards: Graham April, Jason Benade, Adriaan Booysen, Renaldo Bothma, Reinhardt Carelse, Aranos Coetzee, Wian Conradie, AJ De Klerk, Thomasau Forbes, Prince Gaoseb, Max Katjijeko, Simon Kanime, Rohan Kitshoff, Adriaan Ludick, Ruan Ludick, Obert Nortje, Andre Rademeyer, Johan Retief, Desiderius Sethie, Nelius Theron, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Tjiuee Uanivi, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, PJ van Lill, Niël van Vuuren, Janco Venter, Casper Viviers.
Backs: Chrysander Botha, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, Janry Du Toit, JC Greyling, Dumarcho Hartung, Eugene Jantjies, Helarius Kisting, Leslie Klim, Cliven Loubser, Oderich Mouton, Justin Newman, Jay-C Olivier, Chad Plato, Macho Prinsloo, PW Steenkamp, Damian Stevens, Johan Tromp, Russel van Wyk, PJ Walters, Gino Wilson, JC Winkler.