HomeWorld NewsRugby World Cup 2023 Week 2 preview, lineups, predictions
Rugby World Cup 2023 Week 2 preview, lineups, predictions
September 14, 2023
The countdown is over, the 2023 Rugby World Cup has finally arrived and we were treated to an absolute spectacle across the opening weekend.
The action continues from Thursday, when hosts France take on Uruguay, before New Zealand face Namibia the following day; meanwhile, Tonga and Samoa begin their World Cup campaigns against Ireland and Chile respectively. Read ahead for team lists and previews.
France: Melvyn Jaminet, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Arthur Vincent, Yoram Moefana, Gabin Villiere, Antoine Hastoy, Maxime Lucu; Anthony Jelonch (captain), Sekou Macalou, Paul Boudehent, Romain Taofifenua, Cameron Woki, Dorian Aldegheri, Pierre Bourgarit, Jean-Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Bastien Chalureau, Thibaud Flament, François Cros, Baptiste Couilloud, Thomas Ramos.
Uruguay: Baltazar Amaya, Bautista Basso, Tomas Inciarte, Andres Vilaseca (captain), Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Etcheverry, Santiago Arata, Manuel Diana, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Ardao, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Ignacio Peculo, Guillermo Pujadas, Mateo Sanguinetti.
Replacements: Felipe Berchesi, Agustin Ormaechea, Carlos Deus, Lucas Bianchi, Ignacio Dotti, Reinaldo Piussi, Matias Benitez, Facundo Gattas.
Verdict: This will be a walk in the park for France, compared with their opening assignment, which finished in a resounding 26-13 victory over the All Blacks. That was always going to be the hardest game of the hosts’ Pool A run, with the next two outings against Uruguay and Namibia affording Les Bleus the opportunity to finetune their game plan for the sterner test of Italy.
Coach Fabien Galthie has taken the chance to rest some of his frontline starts after the bruising encounter against New Zealand, with skipper Antoine Dupont, Matthieu Jalibert, Gregory Aldritt, Damian Penaud, Charles Ollivon, Uini Atonio and Gael Fickou all sitting this one out.
Uruguay will enter this game fresh having not been involved in Week 1 action; an upset victory is beyond them, but they will look to build some sort of momentum, or, better yet, continuity, before they play their effective ‘final’ against Namibia in two weeks’ time. The South Americans will have taken heart from neighbours’ Chile’s gutsy showing against Japan last weekend, and a similar effort in which they empty the tank will do the developing rugby nation proud.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard, Ardie Savea (captain), Dalton Papali’i, Luke Jacobson, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Tupou Vaa’i, Scott Barrett, Fletcher Newell, Ethan de Groot, Dane Coles.
Namibia: Cliven Loubser, Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (captain), Le Roux Malan, Divan Rossouw, Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens, Richard Hardwick, Prince Gaoseb, Wian Conradie, Tjiuee Uanivi, Johan Retief, Aranos Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Jason Benade.
Replacements: JC Greyling, Jacques Theron, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Booysen, Pieter-Jan van Lil, Haitembu Shikufa, Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen.
Verdict: Sam Whitelock will join Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black of all time when he runs out for his 148th Test in Toulouse on Friday night. The veteran lock, who is playing at his final World Cup, is joined in the second-row by Brodie Retallick, who had to expedite his return from injury when skipper Sam Cane was a late withdrawal against France last week.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has otherwise made a raft of changes to the starting team that faced France, with only Beauden Barrett, stand-in skipper Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Anton Lienert-Brown and and Whitelock retained from the team beaten 26-13 by Les Bleus.
New Zealand will have little trouble accounting for Namibia, with outside backs Leicester Fainga’anuku and Caleb Clarke set to run riot against the Africans, who kicked off their campaign with a 52-8 loss to Italy. The All Blacks are a class up on Italy again, so this could be a long night for Namibia, whom New Zealand beat 71-9 in Japan four years ago. The ton could be in danger here.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees Zammit, Mason Grady, Johnny Williams, Rio Dyer, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams, Taulupe Faletau, Tommy Reffell, Dan Lydiate, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Dillon Lewis, Dewi Lake (captain), Nicky Smith.
Replacements: Josh Adams, Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies, Taine Basham, Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias.
Verdict: Wales have changed 13 from the team that secured an opening round win over Fiji at the weekend but Warren Gatland’s side are not underestimating the threat of Portugal.
They’re expecting Patrice Lagisquet’s side to play a similarly expansive game to the one they faced at the weekend but due to the six-day turnaround, Gatland has opted to chop and change the team. Gareth Anscombe is back at fly-half for Wales as he completes a remarkable return to the team after he missed the World Cup four years ago with a horrific leg injury. Elsewhere Gatland has gone for the all-Exeter pairing of Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza while Dewi Lake captains the team.
“I stated beforehand ‘don’t write us off’, that this team is capable of doing something special and I still believe that,” Gatland said.
“Part of the key themes and key message before this World Cup was make sure we’re a bloody hard team to beat and if we’re a hard team to beat, then things can happen for you.”
South Africa: Willie Le Roux, Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Marvin Orie, Jean Kleyn, Vincent Koch, Mbongeni Mbonambi (captain), Ox Nche.
Replacements: Jesse Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Jasper Wiese, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Steven Kitshoff, Deon Fourie.
Verdict: The Springboks have made 14 changes to the team with only Damian Willemse keeping his spot, but he shifts from fullback to fly-half. This is a test of what Jacques Nienaber’s built his squad on: versatility. There are (remarkably) four scrum-halves in this group with Grant Williams on the wing, Cobus Reinach at scrum-half, Jaden Hendrikse on the bench and Faf de Klerk – usually a No.9 – covering fly-half.
“I’m not being disrespectful to Romania but it’s an opportunity to try him [De Klerk] out in a test match under pressure at 10. He’s trained there for us numerous times,” Nienaber said.
“We’ve said Faf is our third-choice fly-half but this is a nice opportunity to give him a run at 10, controlling the game at 10 at test-match level.”
The Boks were rocked by Malcolm Marx’s injury but they haven’t called up a replacement yet, with Deon Fourie – usually a back-row – providing cover there from the bench. But the Boks are aiming to get the job done, without thinking of what’s to come.
“If we in any way think of further games in the competition, it will be disrespectful to the players that we selected to play for South Africa and it will be disrespectful to the opponents,” Nienaber said.
“It’s not a risk for us. It is well calculated. We are comfortable with what we saw in training. We believe that the guys are good enough in those position to beat the opposition.”