The Hong Kong leg runs from March 23 to 25 with the Tokyo event set for March 31 and April 1 with Oscar Ouma serving as Injera’s assistant following the withdrawal of regular skipper Sydney Ashioya from the two series events over work commitments.
Speaking while naming the team, which includes five changes from the side that did duty during the Wellington and Las Vegas legs of the circuit, head coach Mitch Ocholla said the selections were made with a view of sustaining the momentum gathered at the last outings in New Zealand and USA.
“The changes have been occasioned by player unavailability and injury. We have selected this squad based on a review in the period after our last outing.
“Ben Nyambu has been in fine form for his club side Nondies, playing a pivotal role in their recent good run. Dennis Ombachi, whom we saw last at the Dubai and George legs of the circuit, has recovered from the injuries that saw him sit out Wellington and Vegas,” he added.
“Felix Ayange, who had a great performance at our home tournament, the Safaricom Sevens, has fully recovered from a three month injury layoff and is good enough for the challenge ahead,” he informed.
Peter Ocholla, who last appeared in Mosi Sevens in Zambia, has been drafted in to bring experience, defence and playmaking edge to the squad with recovered Willy Ambaka, who sustained a hamstring injury in Dubai also being named to the team.
“We have been monitoring his performances at his club side Kenya Harlequins and feel he is good enough for selection. He is a big lad, and he is very much a part of our plans during our tour of Hong Kong and Japan,” Ocholla noted.
Commenting on Injera’s selection as captain, the coach said, “Collins is not new to leadership roles within the team, having already served as vice captain in the previous rounds of this season’s campaigns.
“He will hold the leadership mantle in the absence of Ashioya and Oscar’s selection as vice captain is down to a number of factors. At 22 years of age, he is one of the crop of emerging players, and like Injera, exhibits leadership qualities.”
Mwamba RFC’s Lavin Asego also misses out on this tour due to work commitments.
Talking about the upcoming challenge in Hong Kong where Kenya has been placed with Samoa, England and Argentina in a competitive Pool A, Ocholla said, “It is a very competitive, potentially physical pool. We had the upper edge when we drew 7-7 with England in Vegas. We played very well against Samoa in the cup quarters at the same tournament, but were unlucky to lose to them.”
“Looking back, we have bridged the gap against them and will relish another go at them. As we head into Hong Kong, we will look to shore up our defence. We were potent on attack in Wellington and Vegas but got caught out once or twice on defence.”
Kenya Rugby Union Chairman, Mwangi Muthee, speaking at the same function, observed;
“The Hong Kong leg will be tough but this team is equal to the task. We respect our opponents but also want them to know that Kenya will be cup contenders.”
Collins Injera (Mwamba RFC), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC), Benedict Nyambu (Nondescript RUFC), David Ambunya (UCT,South Africa), Dennis Ombachi (Mwamba RFC), Felix Ayange (Strathmore Leos), Horace Otieno (Mwamba RFC), Leon Adongo (Kenya Harlequin FC), Humphrey Kayange (University of Bristol, UK), Linus Nato Simiyu (Impala RFC), Peter Ocholla (Impala RFC), William Ambaka (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Non travelling reserves:
Michael Wanjala (Strathmore Leos), Biko Adema (Nondescript RUFC), Victor Oduor (Kenya Harlequin FC)
Mitch Ocholla (Head Coach), Charles Cardovillis (Assistant Coach), John Mbai (Team Manager), George Odhiambo (Physio), Felix Ochieng’ (Performance Analyst), Geoffrey Kimani (Conditioning Coach)