NAIROBI, Kenya, February 5 – The national sevens rugby team hope to jumpstart their 2008/2009 season when the International Rugby Board (IRB) Wellington Sevens kick off early Friday morning Kenyan time. The team which is currently eighth on the IRB sevens standings is in Pool A alongside South Africa, Scotland and Tonga, some of the most physical sides in the competition.
Kenya has to make up for the six points they let slip in George late last year where they failed to make the main cup quarter finals and were knocked out of the bowl competition by France.
The return of former national captain Sidney Ashioya and flyhalf Peter Ocholla to the side has boosted the armoury at coach Benjamin Ayimba’s disposal who also has the luxury of calling upon Biko Adema and Allan Onyango who missed the first two legs.
Nato Simiyu’s inclusion into the side will bring some variety into the way team attacks and his versatility should also come in handy should there be an injury.
Ben Nyambu, Victor Oduor and Brian Nyikuli are at the tip end of the spear in regard to getting over the advantage to clear the flight path for the likes of captain Humphrey Kayange, his fleet footed brother Collins Injera and Ashioya out wide.
Gibson Weru will once again be orchestrating the game plan with his accurate passing which coupled with his darting runs and support player can be a headache for opposing players.
Apart from getting their season back on track, Kenya’s first match against Tonga at 4.50 a.m. will be a chance for revenge after the last meeting between both sides in the plate final of the Adelaide leg ended 14-12 in the island nation’s favour.
It was the same match Ocholla sustained his ankle injury and it will be interesting subplot to the encounter if he is selected against the warriors of the South pacific who Kenya have beaten three out of four times in Wellington.
Ayimba’s charges will be gunning for their third victory against Scotland when they lock horns with the British side at 7.46 a.m.
The Safari Sevens champions put the Scots to sword in Dubai where they beat them 38-0 in one of their best ever performances on the IRB circuit and just managed to contain their braveheart spirit a week later in George when they edged them out 19-15 in the bowl quarter final.
Playing Scotland at Westpac stadium brings bad memories for Kenyan fans as it was on this same stage three years ago that the Scots beat Kenya 61-0, their heaviest defeat in the IRB series.
Kenya’s final match of the day will be against tournament top seeds and current series leaders South Africa at 9.34 a.m.
Kayange and company will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their 31-0 thrashing in Dubai at the hands of the Springboks late last year.
Their last meeting in Wellington ended 33-7 in favour of the Boks who are favourites to secure the overall title this season.