Lensing tips players to make pro grade
PA Sport
September 10, 2007

Namibia skipper Kees Lensing is convinced some of his players will be rewarded with professional contracts if they continue their remarkable start to the World Cup.

The Africans may have opened the tournament with 32-17 defeat by Ireland - a team that sits 18 places higher in the world rankings - but their rousing performance ensured they finished with the full backing of the Stade
Chaban-Delmas crowd.

Only five of the starting line-up were full-time professionals and among the amateurs who will have caught the eye last night were winger Ryan Witbooi and back row Jacques Nieuwenhuis.

Namibia face hosts France in Toulouse on Sunday and Lensing, who spent a season at Leeds until departing for Natal Sharks in 2006, believes another strong display will alert talent scouts.

``If we keep playing like that I would not be surprised if some guys got offers to play professional rugby in Europe,'' he said.

``The guys showed a lot of commitment against Ireland, especially our amateur players. They put their bodies on the line and I reckon a lot of people will have been impressed.''

Namibia have never won a World Cup match yet tries from Nieuwenhuis and Piet van Zyl helped them edge the second half 14-12.

By the end Ireland had been reduced to a disorganised rabble and it was difficult to separate the professionals in green shirts from the part-timers.

French referee Joel Jutge gave the final scoreline a comfortable look by awarding a late Jerry Flannery try that should never have stood, but Lensing has no complaints.

``The decision was made on the field and we respect it. We didn't think it was a try but the referee made his decision,'' he said.

Namibia have returned to their Marseilles base where they will begin preparations for their clash with France.

Les Bleus, smarting after their 17-12 defeat to Argentina in the World Cup curtain-raiser, need to kickstart their World Cup and coach Hakkies Husselman is braced for the backlash.

``France lost their first game against Argentina so they will be desperate to beat us,'' he said.

``They may select a completely different team to the one that played Argentina. I do not think we will change a lot.''

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