Rugby Rugby

‘Namcos’ frontrunner for Kenya Sevens job

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Simiyu, who also captained the Kenya Sevens team from 2006-2008, is one of the five candidates shortlisted for the head coach job to succeed Benjamin Ayimba who did not make the final cut. PHOTO/courtesy
Simiyu, who also captained the Kenya Sevens team from 2006-2008, is one of the five candidates shortlisted for the head coach job to succeed Benjamin Ayimba who did not make the final cut. PHOTO/courtesy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Former Kenya 15s skipper Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu has emerged as frontrunner for the Kenya Sevens job when Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) is expected to announce the new technical bench on Friday.

Simiyu, who also captained the Kenya Sevens team from 2006-2008, is one of the five candidates shortlisted for the head coach job to succeed Benjamin Ayimba who did not make the final cut.

The 33-year-old, who holds IRB Coaching certificate Level 1 and 2 as well as the IRB Certificate Strength and Conditioning Level 1, has massive experience in rugby having excelled in both sevens and 15s national teams with the latest assignment seeing him captain Kenya ‘A’ against Hong Kong in a test match played in August.

Simiyu, who captained the national 15s side to victory in the 2010 Victoria Cup, comes from a rugby family that also includes former national team captain Victor Sudi and younger brother Nato Simiyu.

He also has coaching experience having managed his old club Impala RFC in 2012, succeeding Bill Githinji until 2014 after coming from a career knee threatening injury picked in 2011 whilst playing for Cheetahs in the Bamburi Rugby Super Series.

Kenya's Innocent 'Namcos' Simiyu wades off a challenge from Uganda's Michael Okarach during the Elgon Cup last month. PHOTO/RAYMOND MAKHAYA
Kenya’s Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu wades off a challenge from Uganda’s Michael Okarach during the Elgon Cup in July. PHOTO/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

If appointed, Simiyu, who has 32 caps for Kenya Sevens where he grounded 58 World Series tries, will be under pressure to match Benyamin Ayimba’s achievements who guided the team to its first ever Main Cup victory in Singapore.

Speaking to Capital Sport, Ayimba wished Simiyu all the best but slammed KRU for neglecting the rights of the players and technical bench, indicating that they are owed Ksh24 million bonus arrears.

“I went for the interview but I knew I was never going to be selected because I stand to my ground and that’s what KRU are afraid of. The process was just to get rid of me. The problem started when I briefed President Uhuru Kenyatta about our financial difficulties something that the Union was against,” Ayimba, who guided the team to seven Main Cup quarter-finals last season, revealed.

“I have a very good command with the players and many players play for the coach but I wish the incoming coach all the best. I leave the team with my head high having been the first coach to win a Main Cup trophy for Kenya and recently winning the Safari Sevens.”

The incoming coach will immediately embark on selecting a squad that will do duty for Kenya in the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series which gets underway on the weekend of December 2 in Dubai where Shujaa are drawn with France, Australia and Japan in Pool D.

Kenya 7s head coach Benjamin Ayimba when conducting training in Nairobi.PHPTO/Raymond Makhaya.
Kenya 7s head coach Benjamin Ayimba when conducting training in Nairobi.PHPTO/Raymond Makhaya.

KRU are yet to contract the players for the news season, something that the team’s vice captain Collins Injera said will hamper their pre-season.

“We need to have the new coach and players who will be contracted in time for us to prepare well for the season. We keep on facing this issue of contracts every time a new season is about to begin. KRU should fasten the process for us to get things running,” the all-time record World Series try scorer said.

Other candidates who made the shortlist are outgoing assistant coach Paul Murunga, former Kenya Sevens coach Mitch Ocholla, former Kenya Harlequin head coach Charles Cardovillis and Fijian Salosi Naiteqe who is the only foreigner.

KRU will also be filling the positions of Team Manager where Newton Ong’alo, Fahad Adil, Eric Ogweno, Jimmi Mnene and Raymond Oruo have made the final shortlist, the strength and conditioning coach as well as the physiotherapists.

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