TOKYO (Reuters) – Namibia assistant coach Mark Jones has a simple message for his team when they face the All Blacks in their World Cup Pool B match on Sunday — empty the tank.
New Zealand are expected to beat the southern Africans comfortably at Tokyo Stadium, despite having played just four days ago against Canada in Oita.
Jones, however, urged his team to make sure that they knew they had been in a test match by the time Pascal Gauzere blows the final whistle.
“You may never get an opportunity to tread on a field at a World Cup, let alone against the number one team in the world,” Jones told reporters on Saturday. “We can’t leave anything in the changing rooms.
“We’ve got to respect them for what they’ve done but we can’t stand back. We’ve got to get into their faces as quickly as we can because the game will be gone if we don’t.”
Namibia are still to win their first World Cup game — having lost all 21 of their previous matches since making their first appearance in 1999 — and unlikely to break that run on Sunday.
They were, however, making steady progress in improving their standard of play and appearing at the World Cup was only going to allow the side to build further, Jones said.
“From my experience with Wales, the moment we started playing the better southern hemisphere teams on a more regular basis the standard of players increased immensely,” he said.
“You’re constantly improving your knowledge of the game, your decision making and conditioning is put under more pressure and that development is crucial to improvement.
“We’ve just got to transfer that to these guys. Hopefully, the global calendar will enable more teams like Namibia to get exposure against tier one teams.
“It’s about growing the game and everybody will benefit from that, tier two and tier one.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)