NAIROBI, Kenya, January 22 – Impala RFC Fly-Half Nato Simiyu could be making a come-back to the national sevens team for the first time in three years, after head coach Felix Ochieng’ included him in his 28-man provisional squad preparing for the fourth and fifth legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Ochieng’ who will be in charge of the team in Wellington and Las Vegas outings for the first time since South African Paul Treu left, said Simiyu will bring in a lot of experience in the team as they seek to retain the core status.
“Simiyu has played for the national team in the past and he continues to feature for Impala. We know what kind of skills he has in regards to 7s and he brings in wealth of experience.
“I’m confident him and Lavin Asego have been put to test not only in-terms of skills but also in fitness and endurance,” Ochieng’ popularly known as ‘Toti’ declared.
Simiyu who captained Kenyan select side Simba Saba at last year’s Safaricom Sevens last featured for the national team during the 2011-12 World Series season under former head coach Mitch Ocholla.
With Kenya occupying 14th spot on 11 points after three rounds (Gold Coast, Dubai and Port Elizabeth), Ochieng’ who served as assistant coach for a long period said the players are committed in helping the team redeem its glory.
“With regards to where we are sitting on the log there is pressure. We are not going to flatter with relegation we will make sure everybody gives his best in the two legs.
“In our pool we face seasoned teams, so we are aware of the challenges ahead. Argentina have been consistent having made the Cup quarter finals in all rounds while Samoa despite not having a good run at the start of the season, we know what they are capable of. Scotland who will be at home is a rugby playing nation so we will not sit back and relax,” the coach explained.
Kenya who will be seeking to reach the Main Cup quarter-final for the first time this season in New Zealand’s Wellington 7s, are boosted by the return of seasoned players led by vice captain and the country’s all time try scorer Collins Injera after missing Dubai and South Africa legs.
“We are not naive in-terms of competition the series is very harsh and teams will be preparing for us so we are making sure we put the hard work at home and get the team spirit going on.
“We will take one game at a time since we don’t know what to expect from other teams. I urge our fans to consistently believe in the team and it’s my obligation we shall represent the country to the best of our abilities,” Ochieng’ declared.
Captain Andrew Amonde said it will be nearly impossible for the team to automatically qualify for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but was upbeat they will get to the Summer Games through the regional qualifiers.
“We still expect to qualify for Olympics; we are still working on it because we expect to be there at the end of the season even if it means through the longer root.
“The return of senior players is a morale booster and they know what is expected of them. The assignment ahead of us is not easy but we will try and make sure we are out of the relegation zone,” Amonde underscored.
Veteran Humphrey Kayange, Fly-Half Biko Adema, Fabian Olando and Michael Agevi are ruled out of the two rounds with injuries but Ochieng’ is confident the quartet will be available for Hong Kong and Japan 7s.
The squad will be trimmed to 12 before they depart for New Zealand on Saturday next week ahead of the February 6 and 7 Wellington 7s.