NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7- Former sevens captain, Humphrey Kayange is in the frame for a second Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign after he was listed among the provisional squad of 16 announced on Thursday.
Head coach Mike Friday who left for England last Saturday included the player who led Kenya to a semi final appearance in Dubai four years ago to bolster the experience in the side that is heading to Russia as a rank favourite for the crown.
The squad will be captained by Andrew Amonde who led the team to fifth in the 2012/13 IRB World Sevens Series and will depart from Nairobi on June 15 for a ten-day closed camp in London before they leave for Moscow on June 25.
Speaking after rolling out the squad, assistant coach, Felix Ochieng, extolled the value of having the most capped player back in the squad after he missed most of the regular season due to sturdy commitments at Bristol University in the UK.
“All along through the years, Humphrey has been a quality player. His understanding of the game is at a different level as seen in London.
“It’s been unfortunate we’ve not have had him here for the same conditioning programme but he was on a remote programme in the UK. But having him back here full time gives us an added advantage, that experience and that leadership he provides when he steps into the field,” assistant coach, Felix Ochieng who took up the team unveiling duty from Friday told Capital Sport.
Kayange was nominated for the IRB Sevens Player of the Year in 2009 when he led Kenya to the semis of the World Cup where they eventually lost to Argentina 12-0.
“Bringing Humphrey back is a big boost to this team and we are looking forward to play with him and we are proud to have him back,” Amonde added.
The skipper declared he was ready to lead his side in their bid to eclipse the class of 2009 and make it to the decider.
“It’s a big challenge from where the other team left it, to take it farther that is being in the final or winning the final. The team named is capable of going out there and winning the Cup for Kenya I’m happy to announce,” Amonde assured.
“I’m going to get all I need from them, I will be there for them and they will be there for me and being a captain for the World Cup is a big call and I’m looking forward to lead them.”
“We are going out for a win, whether we get it or go down, our fans have been with us but we are going for nothing less,” the captain added.
Top try scorer and younger brother to Kayange, Collins Injera, William Ambaka, Lavin Asego, Philip Wamae, Horace Otieno, Biko Adema and Oscar Ouma are among the experienced hands in the squad.
“Getting the blend right of the players who performed well in the (IRB) series and those who maintained the standard is important since we needed players who would put their bodies on the line for this team,” coach Ochieng noted.
Having lost their surprise element, the tactician underscored the need to have the side to live up to their billing.
“There is always pressure when it comes to the World Cup since the level of competition has improved and every team fancies themselves.
“Teams have become more competitive just as we have and our aim is to qualify for the quarter finals and take it a game at a time from there,” he added.
“We are no longer the underdogs; that is the mindset we have tried to get the players into. We have to perform consistently in every game, in every minute.
“That is something we need to absorb and step up to the challenge if we have to get our hands on that trophy,” Ochieng explained in regards of Kenya going in as probable successors to champions Wales.
The final squad of 12 will be named after the London training camp with Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) through facilitators electing to send the team to seclusion to sharpen their focus.
“We have many well wishers in the UK who have facilitated this trip in addition to what we have from our sponsors so that prepare for this event in a focused environment since we do not want to spare anything to ensure we win,” KRU boss, Mwangi Muthee emphasised.
1. Andrew Amonde (KCB), 2. William Ambaka (Quins), 3. Davis Chenge (Western Bulls), 4. Eden Adero (Quins), 5. Patrice Agunda (Quins), 6. Horace Otieno (Mwamba), 7. Philip Wamae (KCB), 8. Biko Adema (Nondies), 9. Lavin Asego (Mwamba), 10. Felix Ayange (Quins), 11. Michael Wanjala (Strathmore Leos), 12. Robert Aringo (Impala), 13. Collins Injera (Mwamba), 14. Oscar Ouma (Nakuru), 15. Dennis Ombachi (Mwamba), 16. Humphrey Kayange (Bristol University)