Whitelock aims to equal McCaw’s record while the All Blacks target victory against Namibia

Toulouse: After suffering an initial World Cup loss to the host nation France, New Zealand is set to aim for a convincing victory against the underdog team Namibia in Toulouse on Friday.

The All Blacks faced a 27-13 defeat at the hands of the French but have made significant changes in preparation for their upcoming match against the African team.

Lock Samuel Whitelock has been selected, marking his 148th All Blacks Test appearance, which ties him with Richie McCaw as the most-capped player in the team’s history.

Only Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones, with 171 caps, has more international appearances than Whitelock and McCaw.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster remarked, “We anticipate a challenging test from the Namibian team on Friday.”

“Although we were disappointed by the outcome of our first-round match, it hasn’t shifted our attention away from our objectives in the pool stage.

“This upcoming match is crucial for our development, and we are eagerly anticipating our arrival in Toulouse to challenge ourselves.”

The All Blacks and Namibia have faced each other twice previously, both encounters occurring during the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand emerged as victors with a scoreline of 58-14 in 2015 and 71-9 in the match four years ago in Japan.

Samuel Whitelock is among the nine changes made to the All Blacks’ lineup.

“We had a specific plan for approaching this game, and we’ve had to make adjustments due to injuries and player availability. Nevertheless, we are confident in our ability to bounce back from our performance in the first round. This is a pivotal match for us, and our selection reflects that,” said Coach Foster.

“We do have a couple of areas we want to emphasize, but I may not disclose them just yet.”

Whitelock is one of the six players retained by Coach Ian Foster for the Toulouse match, along with Ardie Savea, who will serve as captain, Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Dalton Papali’i, and Nepo Laulala.

Three changes

Namibia, on the other hand, has introduced three changes to their lineup compared to the team that suffered a 52-8 defeat against Italy in their opening match.

Jason Benade will take the hooker position, Prince Gaoseb will play as a flanker, and Le Roux Malan will take the center position, while Richard Hardwick shifts to No. 8 for the game at the Stadium de Toulouse.

Namibia’s loss to Italy marked their 23rd consecutive defeat at the World Cup. The only match they did not lose was a fixture against Canada four years ago, which was canceled due to a typhoon.

“The Italy game was a significant challenge for us, particularly in the set-piece. Hopefully, we’ll perform better,” said Namibia coach Allister Coetzee.

“We need to be more aggressive. New Zealand is a top-tier nation. Our strategy is to disrupt their momentum and rhythm.

“We knew we were in a tough pool,” commented former Springbok coach Coetzee. “It’s not intimidating, but it’s genuinely exciting for us. New Zealand is taking this match seriously. It’s positive for the competition and a tremendous opportunity for our players.”

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