NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – Kenya 7s stand-in captain, Collins Injera, is upbeat they will up their game and finish the 2013/14 season on a high when in the penultimate HSBC Sevens World Series in Scotland this weekend at Scotstoun Stadium.
The country’s record try scorer who is currently third on the all time list with 183, however, disclosed it will be an uphill task since they are drawn in a tricky Pool C where they will open with Wales before taking on Tokyo 7s champions Fiji and wrapping up their preliminary stage with Argentina.
“We have learnt our mistakes despite it being a challenging season. We are heading to the last two legs with one mission and that’s to finish the season on a high
“It will not be easy in Glasgow because we will be meeting strong teams who already know how we play since they have beaten us in the season, so it’s a tough Pool but we will try our best and aim for the Cup if possible,”
Injera told Capital Sport before departing for the eighth round of World Series.
Head coach Paul Treu, is beginning to feel the pressure after a string of poor results that saw him set a target of leading his charges to the first semi-final since he took charge last November.
But question marks about his ability to deliver the Olympics medal he was hired to win at the Rio 2016 Games remain since the team is yet to execute his tactics almost a full season into his tenure.
The South African has lacked consistency and firepower they enjoyed last season where they reached five semis and came close to lift the Wellington 7s Main Cup only losing to England 24-19 in sudden death under Englishman Mike Friday.
His reign has not been a complete disaster since the team has reached four quarter-finals in Gold Coast, Dubai, Port Elizabeth and Tokyo 7s although it’s an illustration of how high the bar has been set for the two-time Rugby Sevens World Cup semi finalists that those performances have been met with disquiet .
At this stage last season the team that is placed ninth with 60 points had accumulated 77, leaving the former Blitzbokke tactician with the challenge to steer Shujaa rousing performances in the last two legs to starve off the simmering criticism.
Treu will be looking to bounce back in Glasgow, coming from lifting the Shield in Hong Kong, as he picks up his broken pieces despite the team affected by injuries where they will miss four of their key players, skipper Andrew Amonde who is ruled out for eight weeks with arm injury.
Also joining the list are Mwamba’s Dan Sikuta who picked a knock in Hong Kong, back Oscar Ouma who is out due to family commitment, Lunch Bar Quins Maxwell Theuri who debuted in the last two legs in Japan and Hong Kong and Philip Wamae, who is the latest blow after picking injury during training.
This forced Treu to make latest change in the squad, calling veteran Humphrey Kayange who is based in United Kingdom to team up with half fly Felix Ayange, winger Michael Wanjala and forward Tony Owuor.
Kenya will kick-off her campaign with Wales who beat them 10-7 in Hong Kong at 12:52PM local time setting up an opportunity for Treu to revenge but a slip will as well see Wales leap frog them in the standings.
Wales’s injury woes this season has left them in a tight spot but coach Gareth Williams, will be banking on key players like Lee Williams and Adam Thomas to put in big shifts and capitalize on the ‘home’ support and lack of travel in these final two tournaments.
Shujaa will then square it out with Tokyo 7s winners Fiji at 3:36pm local time (+3GMT), hoping to end their poor run against the Islanders who are third on the log.
Fiji head coach Ben Ryan, has made three changes from the side that played in Hong Kong with Viliame Mata, Leo Naikasau and Semi Kunitani replacing Setefano Cakau, Joeli Lutumailagi and Samu Saqiqa.
Pio Tuwai and the season’s leading try scorer with 40, Samisoni Viriviri, are all included in the squad.
Fiji will be looking to continue with their consistency that has seen them improve in conditioning, going ahead to win Cup twice in Dubai and Japan.
Kenya will then round up their group match with a tricky encounter against Argentina who are one place above them in the table by a point at 7:09pm.
The Los Pumas had hit four successive Cup quarter finals just like Kenya before stumbling at the last two hurdles in Tokyo and Hong Kong, where they reached the Shield and Bowl competitions.
Their slip-up is not likely to last for long and their presence at this pool with Kenya, makes the group of death.
After Glasgow 7s, Kenya will head to London a week later for the ninth and final round of 2013/14 season HSBC Sevens World Series that will run on the weekend of May 10 and 11 at Twickenham Stadium.