NAIROBI, Kenya, February 12 – After setting an impressive benchmark in Wellington, the national Sevens rugby team is primed for another stunning performance at the International Rugby Board (IRB) San Diego Sevens that starts on Saturday night.With flyer Collins Injera on top of the try scorers charts and Lavin Asego second and fifth on the goal scorers and points lists respectively, Benjamin Ayimba can count on a squad that is high on confidence.
Kenya’s experience in San Diego last season will be remembered for their 17-7 victory over England in the main cup quarter final after the English locked them out of the changing room they were supposed to share.
The Safari Sevens champions are aiming to go one step further than the main cup semi final and by the evidence of last week’s performances; a place in the cu final is not a pipe dream.
Uruguay is the first Pool B hurdle they have to overcome as they South American outfit always raise their game for the big sides.
Both teams have met each other only twice in the IRB Sevens Series with Kenya coming out on top in their last encounter 26-10 four years ago in the bowl semi final when the tournament was held in Los Angeles.
France is another banana skin for Kenya with Kenya winning only five out of their last 17 encounters with ‘Les Bleus.’
Both sides last met in the bowl semi final in George last December which France won 19-14.
Kenya team manager Oscar Osir predicts that the game against France will be quite tricky.
“But we have to play against Uruguay first which will not be an easy match. I am sure if we get our act right, this should be a good tournament,” said Osir.
Kenya’s last game of the day is against defending series champions and last year’s San Diego winners New Zealand.
Humphreys Kayange’s men will be out for revenge when they line up against the Kiwis with the 50-10 thrashing in last year’s main cup semi final still playing in their minds.
Their last encounter in the series was in November which New Zealand edged Kenya 21-17 after leading 12-7 at half time.
Kenya’s ability to close out tight games like they did against the Springboks will be the main focus especially with the Rugby World Cup Sevens less than a month away.
Ayimba also seems to have found his starting seven and the impact players that will hopefully deliver the trophy.
Horace Otieno is one of those players who can turn a game on its head with his belligerent style play but the Mwamba flyer can also prove his worth when he starts.
His fending off on Springbok centre Robert Ebherson in the buildup to Kenya’s first try was an indication of the raw strength demanded by outside backs and will be pivotal against the Kiwis.
Peter Ocholla is expected to make his return to competitive action after recovering from an ankle injury sustained last season.
Kenya Harlequins forward Allan Onyango will take a break this weekend with his place in the squad to be taken up by Cyprian Shimenga.
Pool A: South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada
Pool B: New Zealand, Kenya, France, Uruguay
Pool C: England, Samoa, Scotland, Japan
Pool D: Fiji, Argentina, Wales, Mexico