NAIROBI, Kenya, April 16 – National rugby U-20 coach Mitch Ocholla believes his charges will last the distance at the International Rugby Board (IRB) Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT) that starts in Nairobi next week.
Ocholla who named the final 26 on Thursday, said that his squad has struck the perfect balance on how they want to approach the tournament to be held at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) grounds.
“Judging from what we’ve seen we have a very quick side that is also very strong in contact situations,” said Ocholla.
“Through the three Chairman Cup games we played, we’ve seen that there is a lot of exciting talent coming through so we have an all round side,” he added.
The former international sevens and fifteens winger said that fitness work coupled with the individual ability of the players will hold them in good stead throughout the two week tournament.
“Basically we are banking on our condition which is at its peak and we also have a lot of talent in the squad which I think will keep us going,” said the former Impala flyer.
Kenya is in Pool A with Namibian, United States and the Cayman Islands.
“All those teams are going to pose a great challenge. We can’t belittle any team especially the United States and Cayman (Islands) who we haven’t played before,” said Ocholla who masterminded the Nguvu Sharks’ odyssey to the semi finals of the Bamburi Rugby Super Series last weekend.
Ocholla was also buoyant about the fact that his international experience coupled with that from other test players like assistant coach Paul Murunga will pay dividends.
“Felix Ochieng has been with us. Charles Cardovillis is here with us today (Thursday) and Tito Oduk has also assisted us technically, so it not just a Mitch Ocholla affair it’s a Kenya rugby affair,” said Ocholla.
Kenya captain Erick Kioko said that his side is keen on emulating the exploits of the national sevens team and that they are able to contend with the pressure of being hosts.
“The coaching staff have helped us tone down the pressure and advised us to take the tournament in our stride,” said Kioko.
“After what the sevens team has done, everyone is looking up to us to reach the finals and take it,” he added.
Renovations at the RFUEA grounds were in overdrive in readiness for the competition that starts on next Tuesday.
Squad: Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequin FC), Mathew Musalia (Impala), Joel Omer (Impala), Curtis Lilako (Kenya Commercial Bank), Oscar Otindo (Strathmore University), George Mutuku (Strathmore University), David Dinda (Impala), Dennis Karani (Impala), Mugambi Githambi (Strathmore University), Eric Kioko (Strathmore University), Jeff Ojwach (Strathmore University), Ryan Musumba (Strathmore University), Kevin Gacheru (Strathmore University), Jeremy Njoroge (Kenya Commercial Bank),Owen Ocholla (Impala),Joseph Abala (Strathmore University), Ken Isindu (Kenya Commercial Bank), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC), Ken Andola (Strathmore University), Collins Omae (Kenya Harlequin FC), Polycarp Odhiambo (Nondescripts RUFC), Anthony Oyugi (St. Mary’s/Impala), Felix Ayange (Strathmore University), Robert Ouko (Impala), Mike Wanjala (Strathmore University), Anthony Nyandigisi (St. Mary’s/Nondescripts RUFC).
Team Officials: John Mitch Ocholla (head coach), Paul Murunga (assistant coach), Oliver Kituyi (team manager), Gerald omondi (physiotherapist).