NAIROBI, Kenya, October 14 – After finding the going tough with his new national Sevens team at the opening round of this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series, head coach Paul Treu has raised the white flag on the 18 axed senior players asserting they were needed for national duty to accomplish the 2016 Olympics dream.
Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, after returning home Tuesday from Australia to a cold reception after collecting two points in Gold Coast, Treu said they will meet with the players alongside the director of national squads Dennis Ombui Wednesday to solve the grievances.
The regular players led by vice captain and the country’s all time try record scorer Collins Injera, fly-half Biko Adema, Horace Otieno, Patrice Agunda, Oscar Ouma, Oscar Ayodi, Dan Sikuta, Michael Wanjala, Billy Odhiambo, Dennis Ombachi, Eden Agero, Michael Agevi among others downed their boots last month after declining Kenya Rugby Union’s performance contact and medical insurance guidelines among other stipulations.
“When it comes to our experienced players who are on strike, we will engage with them within two or three days to see who among them will get back to the system because irrespective of what has happened we need our players back and we need to get into contention. We cannot afford to go to another Bowl or Shield final.
“We want to hear their grievances and if they are ready to work with our terms as the technical bench since we want players who are committed to the cause, we will take them back,” the South African who is yet to lead the team to a Main Cup semi-final stated.
It being an Olympic qualifying season, Treu who will assemble his charges for training next week said he wants to abide by his pledge to take Kenya to Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Games.
“We will try to do everything in our power to make sure the players are taken care of from a medical and financial perspective. This is the last thing the country wants qualifying to Olympics but we will not achieve that if we leave some of our best players behind. The union is making sure the boys come back to our setup,” the tactician explained.
The absence of the seasoned players reflected in the team’s performance at Gold Coast where they reached the Shield finals, with in-experience costing them, managing only two wins against debutants American Samoa and Japan out of four loses against South Africa, Wales, Portugal and Canada
“Everyone is very disappointed that we finished so low in terms of points but if you look in perspective at the squad that we took new and young players, the guys managed to achieve and we were so close against Wales that could have seen us in the quarters.
“The comeback was good irrespective of the results the guys showed potential because they are committed, disciplined and really want to play for Kenya Sevens and a lot of them we will retain them,” declared Treu.
However, Treu lauded the new call-ups; Augustine Lugonzo, Bush Mwale, Michael Wanjala Junior (Homeboyz), Oliver Mang’eni, Jacob Ojee (KCB), Nakuru RFC’s Martin Owila and teenager Alex Olaba, saying they will be looking to build on their strength.
“The mistakes we made at Gold Coast was because of in-experience but our handling of the ball was not bad. We just need composure and learning how to close games because like in our match against Wales we kicked the ball instead of keeping it.
“We never expected to put the second biggest sore on Samoa, but we don’t look at our mistakes we will look on the things that we have done well and be consistence on them.”
“There was a lot of good moments because it was the first time we scored over a penalty, set pieces and scored so many tries from the turnovers. Given the short-time we were with the team, we were unable to work on things like the line-outs and scrums so given that and we still went there and performed, potential is there to go all the way to Cup finals,” he concluded.
-Amonde calls on focus in the team-
Skipper Andrew Amonde called on his charges to be focused and confident in their next assignment in Dubai and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay 7s in December.
“The boys did well according to the standards that are there in IRB, we still have a lot of things to work on but the good thing is that we are expecting some of the senior boys to be back in training.
“We need to work on our strength and know about our game plan because nothing was running for us especially in our matches against elite teams,” Amonde told Capital Sport.
Kenya who are 14th on two points have been drawn in a tricky pool C alongside Gold Coast third finisher England, Australia and former Kenya coach Mike Friday’s USA for the Dubai Sevens on the weekend of December 5 and 6.