Rugby World Cup: Namibia star Damian Stevens discovers mentor in former All Blacks World Cup winner Andy Ellis

One of the key Namibian threats has enlisted the help of a former All Black to help get the measure of their New Zealand opponents.  

 Andy Ellis has been working closely with Namibian halfback Damian Stevens - a connection made in the United States that has led to an unlikely mentorship in France.  

"I'll try and jump in and just give some of the processes that really helped me through my playing career, just to hold and try and keep some consistencies," Ellis told Newshub.

The pair have a close relationship stemming from their time in Major League Rugby.  

Ellis spent the last two years of his career at Rugby New York, where he crossed paths with Stevens, who plays for New Orleans. 

Damian Stevens.
Damian Stevens. Photo credit: Getty Images

Stevens didn't want to miss the opportunity to pick the brains of a player who's spent decades at the highest level.  

"Playing halfback, there's certain things we have to be all over," Ellis added.

"There's mindset and skillset, and if I can help out in any small way with these guys then it's an honour for me too."

This won't be Stevens' first test against the All Blacks. He was part of the side who faced them at the 2019 World Cup. 

But the result came second that day in Tokyo, where Stevens relished the chance to go against one of the game's all-time best at the position.

"He got Aaron Smith's jersey and shorts the last time they played, so he's feeling pretty pumped about that."

Stevens may get that chance again on Saturday, with Smith named on the bench.

After the enormity of the occasion at Stade de France, Stadium de Toulouse doesn't quite sit on the same scale. 

The smallest of the World Cup venues, just 33,000 fans will pack in – 50,000 less than they had for their opener against France. 

"Obviously the stadium here isn't quite as big as Stade de France, so I guess in a way it is nice," said All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.

It's not the size of the stadium the All Blacks care about though, rather the size of their fightback after an underwhelming start to the World Cup.  

"If you turn up every day and are driven to get better, then those small increments are going to add up to something good."

The All Blacks need them to start adding up quickly, as they look to turn a corner.