NAIROBI, Kenya, January 17- Rugby 7s team captain, Andrew Amonde, has been ruled out of the fourth and fifth HSBC Sevens World Series, head coach, Paul Treu, announced while naming a 12-man squad on Friday for Las Vegas and Wellington 7s.
According to the former Blitzbokke tactician, the inspirational skipper picked the shoulder injury in South Africa at the George Premier League 7s and will be out for six weeks, ruling him out of the rounds scheduled to run on the weekends of January 24 to 26 in USA and February 7 to 9 in New Zealand.
As expected, the South African who has won three Las Vegas titles, selected an experienced side, bringing on board siblings, veteran Humphrey Kayange, Michael Agevi and Collins Injera who inherits the armband.
Mwamba RFC’s Dennis Ombachi and Nakuru’s Oscar Ouma, core players who sat out previous assignments in Adelaide, George and Dubai legs also made the cut in what should be Kenya’s strongest line-up thus far in the 2013/14 series.
Little known Tonny Owuor, is the only player making a debut in the side having impressed the technical bench.
“We have managed to select the most experienced squad ever, the youngsters who participated in the previous two legs, Dubai and Port Elizabeth, really did an excellent job and the guys who are coming in will be under pressure to continue with the good run.
“Our main target for the two tournaments will be to seek consistency and competitiveness as we go along.
“It’s the first time we are going to have the opportunity to work with Kayange, Ouma and Ombachi who are very instrumental. We are looking forward to have a good competition,” Treu said.
Kayange, a post graduate student at University of Bristol, last played for Kenya at the Rugby World Cup 7s in June while Ombachi, a regular over the past two seasons returns after recovery from knee surgery.
Ouma played at the season opening Gold Coast 7s before missing the Dubai and Port Elizabeth legs due to academic commitments.
The coach lauded Kenya Rugby Union for organising the ten day training camp in South Africa, something which he says has improved the fitness of his charges.
“From a conditioning perspective we are now better, we had all the quality time with team to ensure that we cover all areas.
“We were assisted by local coaches on improving our techniques, scrumming, set pieces and kicking the ball, and in that regard we are better off than when we started in November.
“It also offered opportunity for the players to gel especially the boys who are making a come from a long lay off.
“Our target is to go past the Main Cup quarter finals, but our main focus is on the opening match against Canada and then focus on the next game since there is a lot to play for,” he continued.
“We will have to improve our defense, it’s a pity to have lost our captain to injury, but we do have enough experienced squad so I think for us we just want to go out there and do our best, settle in as quickly as possible and fine tune to take every team serious.”
Stand-in captain Injera, said they will take one match at a time in the pool he termed tricky.
“Las Vegas and Wellington has always been a good tour for us, and it’s a good feeling to the team bearing in mind outstanding players are back.
“Last season we had a problem of consistency, but we have worked on it and we are building on our mental strength.
“We are well prepared for this tournament since we did not rest over the festive season and I have faith things will work out for us,” the all-time leading try scorer said.
Treu, added he is building a strong team ahead of the Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We have seen the Groups for the commonwealth games have been announced, we are working towards it because it could be our first opportunity to win a medal for our country when it comes to teams sport, so it’s a working progress and we are preparing for the tournament.”
Kenya currently sits seventh in the overall standings alongside Samoa on 32 points having made the Cup quarters at all of the rounds so far but are yet to lift any silverware.
Treu charges are in Group A, alongside Canada, Wales and Nelson Mandela Bay champions South Africa, for the USA outing.
Daniel Sikuta, Partice Agunda, Billy Odhiambo, Humphrey Kayange, Horace Otieno, Oscar Ouma, Collins Injera, Tonny Owour, Biko Adema, Mike Agevi, Oscar Ayodi, Dennis Ombachi.