NAIROBI, March 16 – Defending Bamburi Rugby Super Series champions Lions and the Cheetahs have unveiled their squads for this year’s campaign.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) captain Edwin Alubaka will lead the Lions in the tournament that starts on Saturday at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) ground.
Simon Jawichre takes over from Bill Githinji as coach while John Ojara has been handed over the reins of team manager.
“It is going to be competitive but we are not taking chances,” said Ojara.
He added the inclusion of two Uganda Franchises was a big boost to the tournament which has now gone fully regional.
Lions will now be made up of players from Kenya Commercial Bank and Mombasa Sports Club.
A quick glimpse at the Lions line up reveals a lot of players who steered the five-time finalists to the title last year.
“This is good for continuity,” commented Jawichre. Paul Murunga who lifted the cup last year as captain has been deployed at second row. Missing from last year’s forwards are Arthur Shikwe and Frankline Amiani.
Michael Aung is back in the Cheetahs fold alongside a familiar line up that features a host of current and former internationals.
The former Kenya 15s captain was away for the better part of last season but is available according to Nondies coach Paul Odera.
The 2004 winners had their first trials on Tuesday at the Jamhuri Park ground and coach Charles Ngovi is upbeat.
“It is looking good,” said Ngovi who is happy with the good blend of experience and youthful players in the team.
Cheetahs have not been spared the agony of missing some of the key players who are in the national sevens team.
Innocent Simiyu, Nato Simiyu, Biko Adema, Brian Nyikuli, Peter Ocholla, Charles Kanyi and Naftaly Bondo are all in the team which reached the main cup semi final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“It is tricky because we have an understanding with the national seven-a-side coach that he has the first choice of picking players for national duty,” explained Ngovi.
One of the most interesting arrivals is Gary Calin who has had a stint in Australia.
Other players who stand out in the Cheetah’s side are Kennedy Moseti, Moses Mwole, Anthony Ndong, Peet Martens, Giles Littlewood, Jay Williams, James Shiundu, Michael Kimani and Moses Kola.
Props: Edwin Alubaka (Captain), Henry Omindo (MSC), Elisha Okello, John Macharia, Moses Amusala (MSC), Edwin Ohana; Locks: Paul Murunga, Kelvin Kimutai, Philip Wamae, Ronny Mwenesi; Backrow: Antony Ochino, Xavier Makuba, Methusela Odongo, Wycliffe Mainye (MSC), Antony Ogot, Sydney Khasamba (MSC); Scrum-halves: Collins Kimani, Peter Mutai (Vice Captain); Fly-halves: Jotham Yahuma, Steven Matioli; Centres: Curtis Olago, Brian Omondi, Silas Amunga (Mombasa Sports Club), Andrew Amonde; Wingers: Calvins Biko, Sammy Wefwafwa, Benjamin Otieno, Dedan Omondi; Full backs: Mark Mshila (Mombasa Sports Club), Lawrence Kirui
Officials: John Ojara (Team Manager), Simon Jawichre (Coach), Mark Mshila (Secretary), Joseph Kolli (Physiotherapist)
Anthony Ndong, Giles Littlewood, John Makanga, Christian Josiah, Peet Maartens, Mike Aung (captain), Steve Ogada, Paul Oimbo, Grey Calin, Malik Ndemi, Duncan Ekasi, Moses Kola, Charles Kanyi, Nato Simiyu, Benedict Nyambu, Alex Mutune, James Shiundu, Bob Oyugi, Biko Adema, Kieran Jethwa, Ken Moseti, Steve Oyaya, Naftaly Bondo, Justus Akiruga, Jay Williams, Innocent Simiyu, Albert Samo, Bryan Nyikuli.