NAIROBI, Kenya, January 25- It is said experience is the best teacher and for head coach Mitch Ocholla and the entire Kenyan rugby sevens technical bench, valuable lessons have been learned.
Their highly rated side, one of the core sides of the IRB Sevens World Series, returned from the opening three legs of the tour in Australia, Dubai and South Africa trophy less and with only five points on the board.
The anxiety caused by the poor showing not only manifested itself in domestic circles but as Kenya Rugby Union chairman, Mwangi Muthee admitted, it resonated in the corridors of the International Rugby Board (IRB).
“It was a major concern that the team was not performing as expected but we explained the main problem was the unavailability of the players but the young men who travelled to Gold Coast, Dubai and South Africa are gallant.
“A lot of them will come back important players from the experience they had which they would have not had the chance to be exposed to if the seasoned players were there,” Muthee said on Wednesday.
Ocholla and his team have thereby, turned to seasoned hands for the New Zealand, Las Vegas and Hong Kong legs with the team scheduled to depart on Saturday for the fourth round of the series.
“All that we plan to do is to make our game talk. We have lost all our games to France, Australia and Canada but we are working round the clock to get the results against them,” Ocholla stated.
Having seen his plans for the first three legs ripped apart by unavailability of the players, Ocholla added,
“We want to take rugby to the next level, professionalism is the way forward and we need to schedule with university and companies that employ our players much better to release players in good time.
“At the moment, everyone is available and the only thing keeping out the players is injury.”
Among the veteran players recalled is the country’s figurehead of the short version of the game, Humphrey Kayange, who returns to the squad he led until the end of last season when he decided to step aside to pursue further studies.
“Humphrey is still scheduled to travel to his masters but he had issues with his papers that caused some delays. We have secured him for this tournament and we shall seek how to accommodate him in the side for the rest of the season if he moves to the UK,” Ocholla said of Kenya’s record try scorer at the IRB circuit.
David Ambunya who is based at South Africa’s Western Province and played for the side in Dubai earned a recall while injury saw veteran Biko Adema penned in as a non travelling reserve.
Stalwarts Lavin Asego, Collins Injera, Leon Adongo, Victor Oduor, Oscar Ouma and Horace Otieno return to the squad with 15s regular Linus Simiyu and Patrice Agunda making their season debut in the forthcoming tour.
Kenya, who are lying in position 14 in the IRB series are in Pool D of the New Zealand leg alongside France, Canada and Australia with Ocholla setting the minimal target of qualifying for the Main Cup quarters.
Six of the seven debutants who made the squad for the opening three legs, namely, Isaiah Moseti, Christopher Asego, Michael Agevi, a younger brother of Kayange, Dennis Ombachi, Tony Onyango and Philip Wamae did not make the team.
1. Sydney Ashioya (Quins/Captain), 2. Lavin Asego (Mwamba), 3. Collins Injera (Mwamba), 4. Victor Oduor (Quins), 5. Leon Adongo (Quins), 6. Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba), 7. Patrice Augunda (Quins), 8. Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC), 9. Linus Simiyu (Impala), 10. Michael Wanjala (Strathmore), 11. Horace Otieno (Mwamba), 12. David Ambunya (South Africa).
Non travelling reserves
Biko Adema, Michael Agevi, Kennedy Moseti