NAIROBI, Kenya, April 2 – The national rugby sevens team once again curtain raise a leg of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series when they lock horns with Japan in Adelaide on Friday.The match which kicks off at 10 a.m. Kenyan time will mark the fourth time both sides have met in the IRB series and will also be their second encounter in the South Australian capital with Benjamin Ayimba’s side winning 22-12 the last time they met in 2007.
Their campaign resumes on day two at 7.19 a.m. when they play Cook Islands, another country who they last met in Adelaide last year winning 26-14 in the plate semi final.
Humphrey Kayange and company should brace themselves for a potential backlash when they face series leaders South Africa in their last pool game at 10.40 a.m.
Kenya produced one of the greatest comebacks in living memory from 17-5 down at halftime to upset the Boks 22-17 in Wellington earlier this year.
Paul Treu’s side is currently dealing with an injury crisis of its own having been forced to recall Howard Noble in place of veteran Philip Snyman who sustained a leg injury.
Despite bowing out at the main cup semi final stage of the Hong Kong sevens last weekend to eventual winners Fiji, Kenya are undoubtedly confident of clinching the Adelaide title after a strong performance in the Far East where they went through the pool stage unbeaten and edged out defending series champions New Zealand 10-7.
Former captain Innocent Simiyu who struggled to gel with the rest of the team at last month’s Rugby World Cup Sevens justified his inclusion on this tour with a typical belligerent performance particularly in the victory against the Kiwis.
Simiyu together with current series top try scorer Collins Injera and supersub Sidney Ashioya will be crucial to their team’s cause to clinch the main cup down under and boosting their standings on the series log where they currently lie sixth 42 points.
If Kenya is to secure that title, Ayimba and his assistant Felix Ochieng have to address the chronic problem of Kenya choking up in matches which come after big victories.
In San Diego after their pool victory over the Kiwis, Kenya lost the main cup quarter final to hosts United States. At the world cup, they lost to Argentina in the main cup after their epic win over Fiji who they then lost to in Hong Kong after beating New Zealand again.
Defence, an area which Ochieng had pointed out when mentioning the areas his team needed to work on is still an area of concern and will have to be addressed if they are to contain the fleet footed Cook Islanders and the Japanese.