NAIROBI, Kenya, September 22 – Nakuru RFC eighth man Martin Owila, is out to impress on his belated national team debut at this weekend’s Safaricom Safari Sevens to earn selection for the 2014-15 HSBC World Series.
Owila missed the 20th Commonwealth Games where Kenya bowed out in the Plate-semis after failing to get his visa processed in time.
Now, the Wanyore utility player says the annual domestic showpiece event will be the perfect platform for the new call-ups to fight for slots available in Paul Treu’s World Series squad.
Last week’s announcement by Kenya Rugby Union it was reviewing all player contracts will have inspired those on the fringes of the national side, including Owila, to eclipse established stars who protested the move.
“The Commonwealth Games were to elevate me to another level given that I had just come from World Cup qualifiers in Madagascar (with the 15s) but not going was not a big deal because things happen for a reason.
“It’s good I was in the system having trained with 7s because there is a lot to learn since it’s broader compared to 15s. We are focusing on Safaricom 7s where I believe we need to give our best and showcase our capabilities especially for new call-ups, then we will see how it goes with the IRB Series if I will make it to the team,” Owila told Capital Sport having caught the eye in the team that just missed out on World Cup qualification.
Owila will feature in one of the three Kenyan teams in the tournament, namely; Shujaa, Moran or Simba Saba who are the latest inclusion in replacing the Britain Students select side that pulled out.
The national team technical bench has opted to go for a mix and match like last year to give all players being considered for the core side a level playing field to impress.
“It’s not only just a dream come true but I’m happy to have grown in the game. I started my career in Kisumu RFC in 2007 and now after a year in Nakuru I’ve won the Kenya Cup, I’m really proud of that achievement.
“Hard work in training and in the games helped me earn a place in the 15s team for the Vodacom Cup where I gained a lot of exposure. It’s something that everyone can achieve because it’s all about the game plan, obeying coaches, the captain and how much you train,” added Owila.
The Nakuru Lock was optimistic Kenya will make it to the maiden 7s tournament at the Summer Games in 2016, saying they only need to plan adequately.
“2016 Olympics we are there in full force, it’s something I heard when I was still playing for Kisumu and I could not imagine one day I will train for the same. We know what we need to work on that will see us improve on last season’s performance.”
Kenya will need to clinch a top-four finish in the World Series to earn automatic qualification to Brazil.
Meanwhile, Argentina, Samurai and Australia Iconz are expected to be the first teams to arrive in the country for the Safaricom Sevens on Tuesday.
All Blacks 7s winger Rocky Khan will captain the New Zealand Metro side that jets in on Wednesday.
Khan has featured for the New Zealand national Sevens team and leads a strong team that features the likes of All Blacks’ Luke Masirewa, Atu Masirewa and Mason Walker.