Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Irish brace for match with Nambia

AP , SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Ireland is looking for five points from its match with Namibia on Sunday at the Rugby World Cup -- it's also chasing its first win in three meetings between the two teams.

The South African rugby minnows have played Ireland only twice, when the Irish toured Namibia in 1991, and won both outings. Current coach Eddie O'Sullivan was the Irish fitness adviser at the time.

But coming off the back of a 67-14 mauling by the Argentine Pumas on Tuesday, Namibia is not looking to make it three out of three.

Instead it will use Sunday's match againt the Six Nations runner-up to prepare for its game against Romania on Oct. 30 -- the match players have targeted to register their first ever World Cup win.

"We need to take a lot from this game and put it into the last one against Romania," said captain Sean Furter.

O'Sullivan has rung the changes in the Irish pack with prop Reggie Corrigan ruled out after injuring a shoulder in training and the back row of Simon Easterby, Alan Quinlan and Eric Miller brought together to provide more power.

"Our backrow does not have a pure openside [flanker], but three good ball carriers, and three good defenders," O'Sullivan said. ``It's maybe not as explosive but more a physical and heavier hitting unit.''

Ireland needs a win and bonus point for four tries to overtake Argentina in Pool A. The two teams are expected to fight it out for the second place spot behind world champion Australia.

While Ireland, which won its first pool game 45-17 against Romania in Gosford, has bulked up its pack, Namibia is looking for increased mobility from its backrow.

"We have picked two No. 6 flanks," said Furter, adding that the change was intended to improve his side's ball retention.

Speaking earlier this week, Irish captain Keith Wood said his team would not take the Namibians lightly, despite their heavy defeat by Argentina and lowly world ranking of 25. "We have to treat them with absolute respect. They are an international team in the World Cup," Wood said.

Namibia flyhalf Rudi van Vuuren will miss Sunday's match through injury, again delaying his bid to become the first man to play in the rugby and cricket world cups in the same year.

The 31-year-old flyhalf, who was in Namibia's squad for the last rugby World Cup four years ago, was forced to pull out of his team's match against Argentina at the last minute with a torn calf muscle.

As well as drafting flanker Wolfie Duvenhage into the starting lineup, Namibia's New Zealand-born coach Dave Waterston included winger Vincent Dreyer and fullback Ronaldo Pedro at the expense of Herman Lintvelt, Melrick Africa and Morne Schreuder.

Italy versus Canada

Coach John Kirwan has made just one change to the Italian team that faces Canada in its Rugby World Cup match Tuesday to the outfit that convincingly beat Tonga this week.

Winger Mirco Bergamasco is promoted from the bench to the run on side for the match at Canberra Stadium in the Australian capital, replacing Nicola Mazzucato. Mazzucato is being rested after being the only player to contest both Italian matches so far this tournament.

New Zealand-born flanker Scott Palmer is the new addition to the reserves bench.

Former All Black Kirwan said Canada posed a bigger threat than the Tongans.

"Canada is much stronger than Tonga, but they have a similar style of playing," he said. "This is the major game as far as we're concerned. Their performance last night was quite outstanding against the All Blacks."

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