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World Cup: Pool D Glance

 Sep 08,2011
Written by: Delon Cheketri
 

We continue our countdown to the World Cup by taking a glance at the teams in Pool D.

Teams: Fiji, Namibia, Samoa, South Africa, Wales.

Crunch Clash: Sunday 11 September: South Africa v Wales, Wellington (10:30)

Fiji

IRB ranking (as of August 29): 15

World Cup appearances (including 2011): 6

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1987, 2007

In perhaps the tightest pool of all, Fiji will be competing all the way with Samoa and Wales for second place behind likely group winners South Africa. The Fijians, like their hosts, live and breathe rugby, the game dating back on the island to 1884.

Their pace and daring nature has seen them become a byword for the sevens game and they now will have the chance to win Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, but they have never quite broken through in the 15-man code.

Four years ago, however, they stunned Wales to reach the last eight where they gave South Africa a decent show. In Sireli Bobo and Raupeni Caucaunibuca they have two of the best backs in the world, but they will miss Jone Qovu and Isa Nacewa.

Fiji: Campese Ma'afu, Deacon Manu (captain), Setefano Somoca, Waisea Daveta, Viliame Veikoso, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Sunia Koto, Seko Kalou, Leone Nakarawa, Wame Lewaravu, Rupeni Nasiga, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Sisa Koyamaibole, Akapusi Qera, Netani Talei, Masi Matadigo, Malakai Ravulo, Nemia Ranuku, Vitori Buatava, Waisea Luveniyali, Seremaia Bai, Nicky Little, Albert Vulivuli, Gabirieli Lovobalavu, Ravai Fatiaki, Vereniki Goneva, Napolioni Nalaga, Michael Tagicakibau, Kini Murimurivalu, Iliesa Keresoni .

Namibia

IRB ranking: 20

World Cup appearances: 4

World Cup best: Pool stages

Namibia qualified for their fourth World Cup with victory over Ivory Coast and won the IRB Nations Cup in 2010, but will have ambitions no greater than chalking up a first-ever win at the global showcase.

Even that is going to be tough in this tightly-contested pool where every point scored against the Namibians, who have yet to record a win against any of their four opponents, could be crucial. The spectre of their 142-0 defeat by Australia eight years ago could come back to haunt them.

The Welwitschias, whose greatest players Jan Ellis and Percy Montgomery both played for South Africa, will relish the prospect of taking on the Springboks.

Namibia: Johannes Bock, Chrysander Botha, Hendirk Dames, Darryl de la Harpe, Ryan de la Harpe, Eugene Janjties, Theuns Kotze, Tertius Losper, Conrad Marais, David Philander, Llelwellyn Winkler, Daniel van Wyk, Mcgrath van Wyk, Willem van Zyl, Jacques Burger (captain), Egbertus O'Callerghan, Nico Esterhuyse, Hendrik Franken, Hugo Horn, Uakazuvara Kazombiaze, Rohan Kitshoff, Heinze Koll, Raol Larson, Pieters van Lill, Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Reaud van Neel, Tinus du Plessis, Johannes Redelinghuys, Johannes du Toit, Marius Visser.

Samoa

IRB ranking: 10

World Cup appearances: 6

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1991, 1995

Watching Samoa is not for the faint-hearted. In between some dazzling running - which has earned them plenty of success in the sevens arena - they are renowned as the hardest tacklers on the planet.

Wales were the first high-profile victims when they were tackled into submission in (Western) Samoa's World Cup entry in 1991. They beat the Welsh again in 1999 and ran England close in 2007. In July, they chalked up a major first by blowing away a sub-par Australia in Sydney.

The squad is fully professional and battle-worn with players like Census Johnson, Ti'i Paulo and Joe Tekori. Playing on what is effectively home soil, the Samoans may even start as favourites ahead of Wales to take second spot in the pool.

Samoa: Ole Avei, Maurie Faasavalu, Census Johnston, Filipo Lavea Levi, Daniel Leo, Logovi'i Mulipola, Ti'i Paulo, Anthony Perenise, Manaia Salavea, Mahonri Schwalger, George Stowers, Sakaria Taulafo, Joe Tekori, Kane Thompson, Ofisa Treviranus, Taiasina Tuifua, Kahn Fotuali'i, David Lemi, Johhny Leota, Seilala Mapusua (captain), Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono, Tasesa Lavea, Augustino Poluleuligaga, George Pisi, Tusi Pisi, James Sooialo, Jeremy Sua, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Alesana Tuilagi, Paul Williams.

South Africa

IRB ranking: 3

World Cup appearances: 5

World Cup best: Winners 1995, 2007

Obvious favourites to qualify as pool winners, the Springboks will be aiming to do what no team have yet managed - to retain their World Cup crown.

Champions under Francois Pienaar on home soil in 1995 and current skipper John Smit four years ago, the South Africans head down under with a stable squad and with class oozing from every department - from Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger up front to the likes of Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Francois Steyn in the backs.

The Boks have never lost to Fiji, Samoa or Namibia and only once in 25 meetings against Wales. On the flip side, they have never been too happy travelling to New Zealand and if the seedings are followed they are due to meet the hosts in the semi-finals at Eden Park, Auckland - a ground where they haven't beaten the All Blacks since 1937.

South Africa: John Smit (captain), Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Johann Muller, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn.

Wales

IRB ranking: 6

World Cup appearances: 7

World Cup best: Third place 1987

Ask a Welshman about his team's chances and he will invariable say: "I'll tell you after Samoa". If there is a quiver of trepidation in his voice as he says it, then it is justified as the Samoans have twice dumped Wales out of the World Cup.

Get through that one and the Welsh can breathe a little easier although they still have to negotiate Fiji, the side that dumped them out four years ago. In November, they lost narrowly to South Africa before being held to a draw by the Fijians. That was followed by three wins in the Six Nations with defeats by England and France.

Thirty-four year old wing Shane Williams, with 55 tries for Wales, is the only true world-class player in Warren Gatland's squad although this may be the occasion for a number of those bubbling just under - such as flanker Josh Turnbull and utility back James Hook - to make the step up.

Wales: Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Lloyd Burns, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Toby Faletau, Paul James, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones, Dan Lydiate, Craig Mitchell, Ken Owens, Andy Powell, Sam Warburton (captain), Aled Brew, Lee Byrne, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, James Hook, Stephen Jones, Tavis Knoyle, George North, Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts, Lloyd Williams, Scott Williams, Shane Williams.

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