September 27, 2019 / 10:08 AM / 17 days ago

Rugby-Boks clash is lifelong dream for nervous Namibia rookie Walters

TOYOTA CITY, Japan, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Namibia centre PJ Walters admitted his nerves are sky-high ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Pool B meeting with heavyweights South Africa and says his main aim is not to “try anything stupid”.

Walters was the only uncapped member of the Namibia squad coming into the tournament in Japan, but made his international bow off the bench against Italy in the 47-22 loss last Sunday.

He played in the fullback position against Italy, but he will line up at the City of Toyota Stadium at inside centre and will likely have a busy evening as the much more fancied Springboks batter the Namibia defensive line with their powerful runners.

“The nerves are sky-high, it’s something that I have been dreaming of my whole life. I can’t explain the feeling, it just feels very big,” Walters told reporters on Friday.

As for a gameplan, he said his focus is on sticking to the instructions of coach Phil Davies.

“Stick to the basics... do everything that we have been training on in the last few months. And don’t try anything stupid!”

There is a chance that the enthusiasm of the Namibians may get the better of them and in a World Cup where overzealous, and high tackles are already a major talking point, Walters says the players are well-aware of the consequences.

“It’s on our minds (about high tackles), you know you can get cited. The low cut is the best tackle you can get, so we must just stick with that,” he said.

Walters, 26, is one of many players in the Namibia squad who have been exposed to South African rugby through their schooling and studies.

Born in the tiny southern Namibian town of Keetmanshoop, he was schooled across the border in Upington in South Africa’s Northern Cape.

He was part of the academy of the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions, but never managed to break into the professional scene in the country.

That failure makes Saturday’s clash all the more significant for Walters, giving him a chance to prove his ability, and perhaps put himself in the shop window for professional South African and European clubs.

“When I got the news (of a World Cup call-up) I was having a braai (barbecue) with my cousin and just chilling. Coming from where I come from, it was a very, very big thing for me,” he said.

“There will be no love lost on Saturday because it is against our neighbours, but we also represent Africa together.

“I just think it will be a great clash, a great atmosphere and a big opportunity for us (as players).” (Editing by Toby Davis)

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