NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – Kenya are raring to sign off what has been an underwhelming 2013/14 HSBC World Sevens Series in London and finish as high as possible in readiness for a better stab next season.
Unlike last season when France based William Ambaka was nominated no Kenyan has been short-listed for the 2014 International Rugby Board Sevens Player of the Year Award.
This year’s accolade will see South Africa’s Kyle Brown, Tim Mikkelson from New Zealand, England’s Tom Mitchell and season’s top try scorer Samisoni Viriviri from Fiji battle for the honour.
Shujaa have lacked consistency this season under head coach Paul Treu finding it challenge for top honours while struggling to replace the likes of veteran Humphrey Kayange and Ambaka who scored eight tries this year to help his club Lyon win promotion to France’s top 14.
After reaching a Plate final for the second time this season to collect 12 points- his highest, Treu will be looking to improve and finish on a high when they take on USA, Samoa and Glasgow Main Cup finalist Canada in a tricky Pool B.
Once again the South African will be banking on Kayange whom he recalled with the experienced fly-half lifting his side after combining well with his younger brother Collins Injera to score four tries in Scotland.
However, it will not be easy to squeeze through to the Main Cup since all teams in the Pool are equal to the task after managing to beat Kenya and it will be upon the South African to improve from the eighth round performance where he only won two games.
Treu, who has not made any changes from Glasgow squad, will open with 13th placed USA at 11:22 am local time (+3GMT) in a clash set to be relatively easy for Shujaa since the latter has won 16 out of 25 encounters.
Both sides last meet in Gold Coast at the season opener with Kenya emerging victorious with a 31-5 thrashing.
They will then take on Samoa at 2:28pm, a team sitting one position below them in a tie they will be looking to win and enhance their chances of progressing to their six Cup last eight.
With only three points separating the two, the encounter is expected to be a closely contested affair as both sides seeks to finish in a respectable position.
Unlike Kenya, Samoa head coach Viliamu Punivalu has made two changes with Fautua Otto replacing Oneone Faafou who suffered a knock and Vavao Afemai coming in for Sani Niue.
But it will be Treu troops who have an up hill task because Samoa will be going to the match with their heads high after dominating the head to head record, having won 27 in 30 meeting with the latest being at Wellington 7s where they won 24-12.
Kenya will round up her preliminary match with Canada at 5.54pm; a team that shattered their first Main Cup semi-final reach this season in Glasgow 7s following their 14-5 win.
The Canadian who have won 15 out of their 24 will hope to continue with the good form they posted in Scotland after reaching their first Cup final this season where they lost 54-7 to Series defending champion New Zealand.
All eyes will be on Treu who failed to hit his Cup last four target in Glasgow 7s as the team seeks to end the season of a high in the ninth and final round at Twickenham after experiencing a lukewarm and disappointing season.
At the moment the team is still struggling to adapt his contact style of play in contrast to the opening game they were used to.