New Namibia head coach Phil Davies insists the Welwitschias are on the right path to realising their vast potential as a rugby nation despite recent setbacks.
The 51-year-old will link up with the Namibian squad at the end of next week having succeeded Danie Vermeulen, who resigned in the aftermath of a winless World Rugby Nations Cup campaign.
The former Welsh international has been working as a technical advisor to the Namibia Rugby Union since last November but will now take on a much more hands-on coaching role at Rugby World Cup 2015 and beyond.
Clearly the immediacy of England 2015 will focus the minds on on-field performances and results, but for Davies it is only one part, albeit a significant one, of the overall jigsaw towards making Namibian rugby stronger for years to come.
Davies is proud of the work achieved behind the scenes over the last eight months that will enable Namibian rugby to grow stronger regardless of how the Welwitschias fare in England.
“Recent results haven’t been what we’d have hoped for but, at the same time, it is all about building for the future,” he said.
“A lot of the local players, who make up about 60 per cent of our wider training squad, hadn’t been subjected to a robust weight training programme until February this year.
“The Namibian Rugby Union has worked incredibly hard to establish a high performance centre at the national stadium and with the help of Wayne Proctor, the strength and conditioning coach, that’s now up and running.
“A quality analysis and player monitoring system is now in place, too, and we’re working on putting an academy system together and developing the domestic club game.
“Slowly but surely the infrastructure behind the team is growing. World Rugby does a fantastic job in trying to develop below the top tier and in a matter of time results will start coming. At the moment though it is all about infrastructure and raising the standards.
“Wayne and I were also brought in to pass on our experience and help upskill the coaches,” he added. “We built up good relationships with all the coaches including with Danie and it is disappointing he has gone.
“Obviously it has a certain effect but the planning for the World Cup was already all in place.”
Shortly after Davies’ appointment was announced former Springbok Pieter Rossouw was named as the Welwitschias’ backs coach.
The pair will sit down together ahead of Namibia’s two tests against Russia in a bid to fine-tune the Welwitschias’ game plan.
“Pieter Rossouw is going to be a great asset. He is very experienced and has played international rugby and been to World Cups with South Africa,” said Davies.
“It’ll just be a case of seeing what we can tweak. We’ll talk to the senior players and see what needs to be prioritised. We don’t have any time to build anything other than a Plan A really.
“Obviously we’ll work on all the key areas but they’ll be a big focus on our kicking game, our defence and our turnover attack. Namibian rugby has some great broken field runners – Russell van Wyk, for example, has world-class pace – so if we get turnover ball we can use that to cause the opposition problems on the counter attack.”
Should Namibia win their first-ever Rugby World Cup match – they have been drawn in Pool C with New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia – the Welwitchias players will no doubt return home heroes.
“We want to make sure we go there and play with plenty of pride and be well organised and hopefully the country will see that and be proud of the players,” he added. “They need to realise as well that there is a long-term process we need to go through to benefit not just this generation but the next generation as well.
“Everybody is doing their best for the country and the players and that can’t be stressed enough.”
Source: Rugbyworldcup Website