NAIROBI, Kenya, March 27 – With three rounds of 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series remaining, Paul Treu is running out of tournaments to achieve the Main Cup semi-final benchmark with Kenya having reached the last four on five occasions last season.
After collecting 10 points in Japan where they were bundled out 36-0 by Australia in the Plate semis, the South African will once again be put to test when they take on Tokyo 7s winner Fiji, Wales and little known Sri Lanka in a tricky Pool A of the seventh round in Hong Kong.
Kenya had a good run in Hong Kong last season when Englishman Mike Friday and New Zealand strength and conditioning coach Chris Brown led them to their fourth Main Cup semis although the rank and file at the bloated technical bench and Kenya Rugby Union have been dead-set against drawing comparisons.
Treu and KRU top honchos have been preaching patience as the former Blitzbokke tactician builds a side for the 2016 Rio Olympics but results in the HSBC Series circuit that are a true measure of ability have been disappointing.
The team has to improve in ball handling and tackling that was wanting last weekend in Japan where experienced captain Andrew Amonde touched down only once with his vice, Collins Injera managing to score two tries despite being the team’s all-time try scorer.
Winger Dennis Ombachi, Horace Otieno, Oscar Ayodi and Billy Odhiambo have been outstanding in trying to run with the ball on the flanks but they are yet to master the South Africa’s contact style of play.
The side has been losing points on the conversions with Biko Adema, who is the Kenyan kick-man failing to sent the ball between the posts.
Treu charges open their campaign on Friday at 2:30pm local time against Sri Lanka a side they have never met in a World Series but a big result for Treu over the Indian Ocean side should give him the momentum to win one more match to progress to the Cup quarters on Sunday.
They will then face last year finalist Wales on Saturday at 8:46am a team that is placed 10th on the log.
Wales boast to have a better head to head record after wining 14 out of 27 meets though Kenya emerged victorious in their last encounter in Las Vegas where they won 21-17.
Despite being on the high and low this season the side is always threatening having always proven to be a difficult opponent for Shujaa.
The last preliminary Group A will be a tall order for Treu since they will be facing a rejuvenated defending champions Fiji at 2:16pm a team that has been on form throughout the series.
The Ben Ryan coached side are favorites to top the pool after having this season’s leading try scorer Samisoni Viriviri and a supporting squad that features the likes of Emosi Mulevoro and Donasio Ratubuli.
This will be a sweet moment for Kenya to revenge their 43-19 loss to the Pacific Islanders who eliminated them in Tokyo’s Cup quarters.
Kenya has only beaten Fiji once in London’s tour last season to qualify to the Cup semis with the latter winning 23 out of the 24 meets.
Kenya’s fixtures at the Hong Kong Sevens
Friday 28 March
Kenya vs Sri Lanka 2:30 pm (Kenya time)
Saturday 29 March
Kenya vs Wales 8:46am (Kenya time)
Kenya vs Fiji 2:16pm (Kenya time)