All Blacks ring the changes after Rugby World Cup defeat to France

Sam Whitelock eyes Richie McCaw's mark against Namibia on Friday

All Blacks second row Sam Whitelock during the Rugby World Cup match against France. Getty
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New Zealand have shuffled the pack as they look to bounce back from their opening World Cup defeat when they face Pool A minnows Namibia in Toulouse on Friday.

The All Blacks were stunned 27-13 by France, resulting in a number of changes for the clash against the Africans.

Lock Sam Whitelock has been named for what will be his 148th All Blacks Test, equalling Richie McCaw as the most-capped player in the team's history.

Only Alun Wyn Jones of Wales, with 171, has made more international appearances.

Whitelock is one of six players retained by coach Ian Foster for the game in Toulouse from the team that lost to France. The others are Ardie Savea, who will captain the side, Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Dalton Papali'i and Nepo Laulala.

"We are expecting a very tough Namibian side to test us on Friday," said All Blacks coach Foster.

"Whilst we were disappointed with the result in the first round, it hasn't moved our focus from what we need to do to in our pool games.

"This game is vital for us to grow and we can't wait to get to Toulouse and test ourselves."

The All Blacks will be focusing on their set-pieces which have been unsteady in their last two matches — historic defeats to France and South Africa. Foster wants his side to start with the basics.

They have three more pool games — Namibia, Italy, Uruguay — to find their rhythm in time for an expected quarter-final against probably South Africa or Ireland.

“We still want to play [an attacking game] but we also know in those big games that you've got to get some basics right,” Foster said.

The scrum against France conceded two penalties and a free kick. One throw-in was lost. From their kick-chase, the All Blacks retained only five of their 17 attacking kicks, and conceded two more penalties.

They gave away 12 penalties in all, and France goalkicked five of them. France conceded only four penalties.

“You've got to get your set-piece right,” Foster said. “If you start to creak there or you misinterpret what the refs want, then that generates pressure. That was one of the big lessons in that France game.”

Namibia, meanwhile, have made three changes from the team that lost 52-8 to Italy in their opener.

Jason Benade comes in at hooker, Prince Gaoseb at flanker and Le Roux Malan in the centre while Richard Hardwick switches to No. 8 for the game at the Stadium de Toulouse.

Namibia's defeat by Italy was their 23rd straight loss at the World Cup. The only game they have not lost was an encounter with Canada four years ago, cancelled because of a typhoon.

"The Italy game was a big challenge for us, especially in the set-piece. Hopefully it will be better," said Namibia coach Allister Coetzee.

"We have to throw more punches. New Zealand is a top nation. Our plan is to stop the momentum and break their rhythm."

The All Blacks and Namibia have played each other twice before, with both fixtures having taken place at the World Cup. New Zealand ran out 58-14 winners in 2015 and 71-9 victors four years ago in Japan.

Updated: September 14, 2023, 1:12 PM