A week after their 27-13 defeat against France in the tournament opener at Stade de France, the All Blacks will have a point to prove against Namibia in Toulouse on Friday, as the two sides meet for a third time in Rugby World Cups.

Coach Ian Foster has made nine starting line-up changes for New Zealand’s second match of the tournament, with Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Dalton Papali’i, Ardie Savea, Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown all retaining their places. 

Namibia opened their Rugby World Cup 2023 account with a 52-8 defeat against Italy in Saint-Étienne a match the Welwitschias’ captain Johan Deysel described as “a great game to learn from”.

How much they learned in eastern France may well become clear on Friday night in the south-west of the country. The good news for both teams is that it's going to be noticeably cooler in Toulouse on Thursday night than the last time they walked out on to a rugby pitch in France.

FIXTURE: New Zealand v Namibia

GROUND: Stadium de Toulouse (33,103)

KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)


This will be the third time in as many Rugby World Cups that New Zealand and Namibia have met in the pool phase. The All Blacks have won comfortably both times 58-14 at London’s Olympic Stadium in 2015, and 71-9 at Tokyo Stadium four years ago. 


New Zealand ran in nine tries against Namibia to claim that 58-14 win en route to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015. But the doubles for Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea aren’t what the 50,000 crowd in the Olympic Stadium remember as much as Johan Deysel’s second-half try, after an organised and determined Namibia who caused New Zealand rather more problems than the final score suggests turned down a kick at goal for a shot at glory. 


The talk surrounding New Zealand will still be all about their first-ever pool phase defeat in the tournament opener against France, after 31 pool wins in a row at Rugby World Cups. The expectation is that they will bounce back with a big win here but all eyes will be on their performance.


Damian McKenzie v Tiaan Swanepoel. The All Black may have 43 caps to his name but this is his first World Cup start, after he was ruled out of RWC 2019 with an ankle injury, and just his fifth match in the 10 shirt. Opposite number Swanepoel has almost as many international starts at 10 as McKenzie and has a monster boot. With this ball, his kicking - he made 583 metres from 16 kicks against Italy - could prove very useful indeed for Namibia.


Sam Whitelock will equal Richie McCaw as the most capped All Black in test history in Toulouse as he runs out for his 148th match only Alun Wyn Jones (171) has more international caps. This is also his 21st Rugby World Cup match one behind joint record holders McCaw and England’s Jason Leonard. And Whitelock played in both previous meetings between the All Blacks and Namibia, scoring one of his seven international tries against them.


Luke Pearce (England). The now-35-year-old Pearce was the youngest referee to be promoted to the English RFU's National panel back in 2009.


NEW ZEALAND Beauden Barrett; Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku; Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard; Ofa Tuungafasi, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick,  Samuel Whitelock, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papali'i, Ardie Savea (captain) 

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett, Tupou Vaa'i, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga, Rieko Ioane 

NAMIBIA Cliven Loubser; Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (captain), Le Roux Malan, Divan Rossouw; Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens; Jason Benade, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Johan Coetzee; Johan Retief, Tjiuee Uanivi; Wian Conradie, Prince Gaoseb, Richard Hardwick

Replacements: Louis van der Westhuizen, Desiderius Sethie, Haitembu Shifuka, PJ Van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Max Katjijeko, Jacques Theron, JC Greyling