NAIROBI, Kenya, January 24 – After reaching three Main Cup quarter finals in HSBC Sevens World Series head coach, Paul Treu, has the squad capable of going a step further this weekend in one of Kenya’s favoured legs of the competition in Las Vegas.
Coming from a 10 day training camp from South Africa, the team are set for the fourth and fifth legs where Kenya traditionally performs well with most of the core players available.
Therefore, expectations the team will do better than bowing out at the Plate semis at their last two outings are high.
According to Treu, his charges are now fit having worked on their techniques including scrumming, kicking the ball and solidifying their defence.
At his disposal is the strongest squad he has been able to select in his reign that started last November despite the fact he lost his skipper, Andrew Amonde.
However, that is compensated by the return of veteran Humphrey Kayange, who last played during the World Cup Sevens in Moscow, winger Dennis Ombachi, and Nakuru RFC’s Oscar Ouma, who missed the last three legs due to work and school commitments.
This means Treu has the depth in the forwards where center Kayange, will combine well with his younger brother and stand-in-captain, Collins Injera, alongside Ouma for the tries.
The national team that enjoys roaring support from Kenyans based in USA in Vegas, open their campaign against unpredictable Canada on Saturday.
The last time the two sides meet was at the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s, where Treu charges trounced the Canadians 24-12 and they are yet to reach the Main Cup quarters this season.
Their core players Nathan Hirayama, Sean Duke and Ciaran Hearn are still nursing injuries.
The former Blitzbokke tactician said his focus is in the Canada match, since the results will determine their chances of qualifying to the Main Cup quarters.
“We intend to take one match at a time, and we will not underrate any team, for now we are focused on our first match against Canada, then every thing will depend on the outcome,” Treu, said before they departed for USA.
Despite coming to the tie as the underdogs, Canada has a good record against Kenya, having won 13 times in 22 meeting.
Treu will then face Wales in the second match, a team they have struggled to beat, with the latter emerging 24-19 victors when they last met in the plate semis at Dubai 7s.
Wales will be under new tutelage of Gareth Williams who is seeking a maiden win.
He has recalled captain Adam Thomas, but his side has suffered Lee Williams’ injury blow but Rhys Jones and Rhys Shellard will bring in their experience.
Kenya wraps up their Group A fixture with a tie against Nelson Mandela Bay champions South Africa.
The two sides have met twice this season, with Treu failing to beat his former team on both.
All eyes are on Treu, to see if he will break through this time round, though it seems to be an up hill climb for him since the Blitzbokke, coming from lifting the Port Elizabeth title, will be seeking to defend the Las Vegas Cup.
South Africa are boosted by the return of Stephan Dippenaar and Seabelo Senatla, who joins a strong squad of upfront Frankie Horne, Chris Dry and captain Kyle Brown.
Kenya needs to win at least two matches to seal a Main Cup quarter final slot, something that team’s all-time try scorer Injera, said it’s possible since USA has always been a good outing for them.
“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.
“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,” Injera who will skipper the team said before they departed for Las Vegas.
During last year’s Las Vegas leg, the national team only beat Uruguay in their Pool that had Canada and South Africa, relegating them to the Bowl competition, before eventually ending their run in the Shield semi-final.
Kenya is currently seventh on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings with 32 points alongside Samoa.