NAIROBI, May 8 – Sevens ace Innocent Simiyu will captain the national fifteens rugby squad in their upcoming African Rugby Confederation (CAR) and Elgon Cup assignments.Coach Michael Otieno has also included the entire national sevens team in the 35 member squad with 12 reserves to fill in for them when they head to the British Isles for the last two legs of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series later this month.
“We have included the sevens players based on their performance at last weeks trials. But because of their assignments we have named another 12 players who will train with us when the sevens team is away,” said Otieno.
National under 20 and Kenya Harlequins centre Patrice Agunda has been called up to the senior squad after a solid performance in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy where Kenya finished fourth.
Another member of the under 20 team Oscar Ouma of Nakuru has been lined up as a reserve player alongside fellow club mates Nick Lango and Lawrence Buyachi.
Nondies stalwart Mike Aung makes his return to the fold after a year’s absence while club mates Gary Cullin and Alex Mutune earn senior call ups after impressive outings in the Bamburi Super Series.
Harlequins dominate the forwards roster with six players including the front row of Daniel Kiptoo, Vincent Ongera and Joel Nganga.
Competition in the centres is expected to be close as national sevens team mates Humphrey Kayange, Simiyu and Biko Adema will be vying for the two slots available.
A new dimension will be added to the team’s preparations this year with plans for a training camp afoot.
“We have taken the cue from the sevens team and decided to adopt a professional approach. We are going to have weekend camps where the players will be together from Friday up to Sunday,” said Otieno.
“In those camps we will be focusing on particular aspects on our game that have been letting us down and also focus on team building,” said the former Kenya fullback.
“Strength and conditioning is an area we want to work on because those are the focal points of fifteens rugby,” he added.
Kenya is scheduled to take part in CAR tournament from July 7- July 10 while the legs of the Elgon Cup will be held on August 15 and August 29.
Otieno was speaking after the team received a three year sponsorship package from Telkom Kenya through their commercial arm Orange who gave Sh4 million for this year.
Part of the sponsorship will go towards the purchase of a mobile gym the first ever such utility in Kenya.
“We are coming in to assist the Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) and the technical bench of the fifteens team to lay the foundations for future success with the ultimate goal of participating in the 2015World Cup,” said Telkom Kenya deputy CEO Peter Reinartz.
Daniel Kiptoo, Edwin Alubakha, Joel Ng’ang’a, Vincent Ongera, Dennis Abenga, Desmond Muchemi, Brian Simiyu, Antony Ogot, Mike Aung, Lewis Olaka, David Mogere, Allan Onyango, Andrew Amonde, Brian Nyikuli, Paul Oimbo, Gary Cullin, Charles Kanyi, Alex Mutune, Felix Wanjala, Nato Simiyu, Leon Adongo, Allan Makaka, Calvins Biko, Naftaly Bondo, Vincent Mose, Chris Oduor, Humphrey Kayange, Collins Injera, Patrice Agunda, Lavin Asego, Biko Adema, Horace Otieno, Wilson Kopondo, Ben Nyambu, George Mbaye, Gibson Weru