Rugby Rugby

Treu needs a quick fix or else…

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INJERA-IRBNAIROBI, Kenya, January 27 – At this stage last season, Kenya had accumulated 56 points and were among the top five of the HSBC World Sevens standings and seemingly on the way up.

During the fourth round then held in New Zealand, Kenya came so close to a first ever series win when they lost to England at the final of the Wellington 7s at the death as Mike Friday’s charges embarked on a dream run to the Main Cup decider.

However, the much heralded change of guard under former South Africa head coach, Paul Treu has failed to fire the team up the table after they slipped down to eighth on 39 after losing the Bowl Final to Fiji 35-0.

So, what has gone wrong with the side that was on the throes of being a regular Main Cup challenger but now find itself unable to qualify past the quarters since the 2013/14 season stared?

Their performance in Vegas last weekend where Kenya also performed dismally last season despite Treu fielding his best squad leaves a lot to be desired despite the rallying call for patience his employers, Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), are calling for.

Under Friday and New Zealand fitness and conditioning coach, Chris Brown, Kenya started last season on fire and besides amassing 99 series points, one short of their stated target of 100and qualifying to the semi finals of the Rugby Sevens World Cup at the end of the season, KRU brought Treu on board to continue the progression.

Whilst Treu has been awarded a lucrative three-year deal with the 2016 Olympics the main target, Kenya’s performance so far at the World Series does little to suggest high hopes of medalling in Rio.

For the first time this season, the team failed to reach the Main Cup quarters, after winning only one match against Wales in Group A with a last ditch Collins Injera tackle saving the day.

Treu was expected to perform better in USA at the back of the much publicised 10-day training camp in South Africa and having the best squad bar injured captain, Andrew Amonde, at his disposal.

They started the competition on a wrong footing, losing to Canada 15-17, a team that Kenya beat in the last two legs of the series as nerves came to play.

After securing a 21-17 win over Wales, the South African needed to beat his former charges to be guaranteed a Main Cup quarters slot, but that only remained a dream as he once again failed to go past Blitzbokke for the third time in a row.

The return of veteran Humphrey Kayange, winger Dennis Ombachi and Nakuru RFC’s Oscar Ouma, was not felt as they did not show their prowess after failing to break through series winners South Africa and Fiji’s defence.

Despite enjoying a wide fan base from Kenyans living in USA, the team failed to rise to the occasion to surpass the 2012 outing where they clinched the Plate.

With Treu leading the side to the Wellington 7s where they stunned the hosts last year, another poor outing will only crank up the pressure on the South African and KRU who are paying through the nose to keep the head coach and his team of experts engaged.

The team will camp in USA for one week before heading to New Zealand for the fifth round where Kenya, under the tutelage of Friday, missed the Cup by a whisker after losing the finals to England 24-19 in sudden death.

In contrast, Treu must be looking on wistfully as his former charges continue to flourish, taking the series standings lead after stopping the All Blacks at the Vegas Main Cup final.

The South African does not have a kind draw for the February 7 to 8 Wellington 7s with Kenya pooled to face Samoa, Australia and Tonga in Group D.

In a country where patience runs thin with poor results, it might be too early to state Treu’s goose is cooked but the murmurs will only grow louder if a quick fix is not found in New Zealand.

After all, he is enjoying almost unlimited resources, core players have been placed on contracts while KRU and sponsors Kenya Airways have ensured payment for services rendered is prompt unless of course, it is proven otherwise.

Unlike Friday, Treu is a permanent resident in Kenya, has unlimited access to his players but the Englishman at the moment seems to have been better at getting the best out of the squad with limited time on the training ground.

The sooner he gets the team to adapt to his tactics of more contact as opposed to speed and flair, the better it will be for the head coach who pledged to deliver Kenya to the Promised Land when he took charge in November.

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