NAIROBI, Kenya, October 3 – National Sevens head coach Paul Treu says troubles surrounding the team will not affect his charges as they intensify preparations for this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series opener next weekend in Gold Coast.
The squad of 12 that features six debutants are in South Africa for a four-day camp before flying to Australia on Monday for the tournament that will he hosted at the Cbus Super Stadium.
The South African will be on the spot as he launches the campaign that he promised would end with the team taking pride of place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro by nailing a top four finish in the eight-leg international circuit.
However, despite the coach exuding confidence, the team has a mountain to climb after 18 regular players led by vice-captain and Kenya’s all-time record try scorer Collins Injera were dropped from the squad following an acrimonious fall out with Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) that is still smouldering.
“The guys who came from 15s to 7s have really stepped up and I’m really impressed with them especially in the kick outs, they are a surprise package for me.
“We were able to select a balanced side; blending the young and experienced players. We want to make sure we build the team around them, I know they will find it difficult in Gold Coast but there is no excuse, they have to give their best because our role is to play. We not concerned with what is going on in the Union,” Treu insisted.
It’s yet to be seen if the players have gelled after playing their first competitive tournament at this year’s Safaricom Sevens where Shujaa surrendered the Main Cup title to Welsh Warriors, Moran made it to the quarters whilst the second side, Simba Saba crashed out at the group phase with consistency in the squad remaining the big question.
Captain Andrew Amonde, Fabian Olando, Davis Chenge, Leonard Mugaisi and Max Theuri have already adapted Treu’s philosophy having playing under him last season, leaving everyone to guess if the new call ups have had enough time to bed in.
Kenya will face Commonwealth Games gold medallists South Africa, Samoa and American Samoa in the preliminary round of Pool B with the former who were handled by Treu the season before last proving to be Kenya’s biggest headache last season when they beat them on five of the six occasions they were drawn together in the Pools.
Moreover, the other hurdle for Kenya who finished eighth on the log last season to clear is to ensure they finish among the semi finalists to avoid tough draws for the subsequent rounds by ensuring they remain seeded to enhance progression chances at the pool stage.
Treu acknowledged the importance of landing kind draws when he stated, “We have to aim at finishing in the last stages of the Main Cup competition to avoid the likes of South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa in the pool rounds of the next tournament.”
Back at home, KRU and the players in dispute have the time to sit down and resolve an impasse that is threatening to lead to the ‘Operation Rio’ launched last term with fanfare on Treu’s hiring will not be stillborn.
The team and the country at large can ill afford to be architects of their own broken dreams, coming months after the national 15s teams fluffed their lines against Zimbabwe in the continental qualifiers final to fall from the cusp of qualifying for a maiden Rugby World Cup to grass in 80 minutes.