Rugby Rugby

Former skipper Simiyu eyes Shujaa return

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NMCOS-XINHUANAIROBI, Kenya, September 8 – Former Kenya 7s skipper, Innocent Simiyu, has set his sights at regaining his place in the squad after returning from a three-year injury lay-off.

‘Namcos’ as he is fondly known by family and fans, showed intent he was returning to his best after full recovery from a lengthy knee injury picked in 2011 whilst playing for Cheetahs in the Bamburi Rugby Super Series at last weekend’s Christie 7s.

Featuring for his old side Impala RFC at the final leg of the 2014 Safaricom Sevens circuit, Simiyu was part of the losing finalists who fell 27-17 to Mwamba.

“The series has been tough for us but the biggest thing is that finally, the result came.

“We have been playing very well but lacked that mental edge on closing out on the games so this last campaign was a good kick-off for our Kenya Cup and other tournaments to come,” the 31 year-old who captained the national 15s side to victory in the 2010 Victoria Cup said.

Simiyu comes from a rugby family that also includes former national team captain Victor Sudi and younger brother Nato Simiyu whom he partnered with to inspire the Ngong Road side to their first Sevens Series final this season.

“I’m happy to be playing again. My hope is just to keep on playing. I train hard to see where it takes me and if it takes me to the highest level, well and good if it takes me to club level at Impala, well and good.

“The biggest thing is to improve on my form and hope one day it will open the door at the national team, I’m focusing on getting my body back on shape because I’m operating at 40 percent, also I need to lose 10kg and increase my pace,” the Benefits Manager at Resolution Health (EA) Limited told Capital Sport.

Simiyu who has 32 caps in the shorter version of the game, tipped Kenya will qualify for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but only if players are given time to show case their talent rather than being restricted to a certain style of play.

“Our chances are 100 percent, the job now lies on us and what we do on the pitch as well as how we prepare for those games will determine but the biggest thing is that each individual must bring something to the table.

“The diversity we have in different players will carry the day for us and that’s something the technical bench should note because people are different and as much as they put structures, they should try and let out players showcase their talent.”

Commenting on the current national team performance, the captain of the 2006 – 2008 side said, “The biggest problem I’ve seen in the national team, players have been confined to specific way of play and that sometimes can’t work because 7s is a short game.

“A lot of individual brilliance is not shown in the game which can unlock the game, even with structures, we still need individual brilliance and that’s the modern thing that we have been trying to do at Impala. That’s what we used to do when I joined the national team.”

After the injury, Simiyu was appointed Impala head coach in 2012, succeeding Bill Githinji until early this year when Nick Odera took over.
“I did a little bit of coaching at Impala and I also focused on my professional career to close the gap because rugby takes a lot of time to perfume at the highest level.”

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