NAIROBI, Kenya, March 19 – Joshua Gathumbi has been recalled to the national sevens team for the Hong Kong and Adelaide legs of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series.
The Strathmore University’s scrumhalf inclusion is the only change made to the side in the side and he comes in place of Biko Adema who has pulled out due to personal commitments.
“Joshua will play the role of a utility back. Originally he’s a scrumhalf but he can also fit in as a flyhalf,” said assistant coach Felix Ochieng who named the squad on Thursday.
“We’ll be able to switch him between both halfback positions where he will work with either Gibson Weru or Lavin Asego out in the backs,” he added.
Kenya will depart on Sunday night for Hong Kong where they are in Pool F alongside United States, Scotland and West Indies.
Ochieng believes that the atmosphere surrounding the Hong Kong leg can act as a springboard for small nations to raise their game.
“West Indies are not exposed that much in the series but the atmosphere can drive them through. Their players are natural steppers which can actually upset any other team,” said Ochieng.
“USA and Scotland are very talented sides. Scotland have been bruised a bit over the season and will come back and try and get points and they are a core side as well and I know they will come out with their guns blazing,” he added.
Ochieng also believes that their pool in Adelaide a week later is a potential minefield for the Rugby World Sevens main cup semifinalists.
“Japan and Cook Islands are also teams with natural steppers because they have a lot of influence from the Pacific Islands,” said the former national player of their Pool D rivals in Australia where they will also face South Africa.
“South Africa have gone back to the drawing board. They will definitely make some changes and come and win the tournament,” said Ochieng.
The team will have two more training sessions before they depart.
“We want to improve on our defence, not just as a team but on the individual side as well.
Humphrey Kayange (captain), Allan Onyango, Victor Oduor, Ben Nyambu, Wilson Kopondo, Lavin Asego, Joshua Gathumbi, Innocent Simiyu, Collins Injera, Sidney Ashioya, Gibson Weru, Horace Otieno.