NAIROBI, September 30 – Eight national sevens core players have been ruled out of this weekend’s Safari Sevens after picking injuries in training.
Head coach, Benjamin Ayimba who unveiled Shujaa and Moran squads on Wednesday, was optimistic the experienced players will be fit for November’s African 2016 Olympics qualifiers to be hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Record try scorer, Collins Injera, Billy Odhiambo, Lavin Asego, Patrice Agunda, Oscar Ayodi, Dan Sikuta, Dennis Ombachi and Leonard Mugaisi will sit out the 20th Safari Sevens that has attracted 14 foreign teams led by Samurai.
“With almost all senior players injured like Injera who is at 60 percent recovery, there is very little we can do in competing at top level but it’s a blessing in disguise for us since we will be able to gauge whom we will work with.
“The young men I have named here are pretty good in what they do and that’s the reason they are in the team. The ultimate prize is to win the tournament.
“We have asked them to focus on trying to get into the team because it’s almost a selection process and the boys know exactly what they need to do,” Ayimba, who made a return to the team’s management a fortnight ago, announced.
Ayimba will oversee Shujaa with Andrew Amonde wearing the armband for Kenya’s main team. South Africa’s Western Province winger, Willy Ambaka is set to make a comeback after two years in that side.
Jeff Oluoch (Homeboyz), Oscar Dennis (Nondescript) and Frank Wanyama (Kenya Harlequins) are among new inclusions while fly-half, Biko Adema and Augustine Lugonzo are the only senior players in the team.
Eden Agero from Harlequins will captain Moran that has Homeboyz centre, Bush Mwale and Strathmore Leos’ Tony Onyango as the only seasoned players with Implala RFC impressive duo of Robert Aringo and Samuel Motari also featuring.
Ayimba will use the tournament to select his final 23 squad that will be contracted by Kenya Rugby Union for the Olympics qualifiers and the 2015-16 World Rugby Sevens Series season.
“It will be a good tournament for us because we will have an opportunity to gauge our Olympics qualifiers opponents as well as see who is best to make our team. We will go all out since our aim is to win,” Ayimba declared.
Kenya’s opponents in the regional Olympics qualifiers Zimbabwe, Namibia and Uganda are expected to participate in the two-day international competition.
With strength and conditioning coach, South Africa’s Graham Bentz future in doubt, Ayimba was confident Geoffrey Kimani who has been in the team before is capable of executing the role in the interim.
“We have Kimani who is a renowned strength and conditioning coach as well as sprint trainer. We worked together at the 2009 World Cup and results were there to be seen. We improved in the last two weeks and we hope all injured guys will go to rehab and get well soon.”
Ayimba, who was formally in charge from 2006-2011, declared his first target is to lead the team to Olympics and improve on their 13th spot in the World Sevens Series.
“We need to understand that the game is all about performance as opposed to forcing results and unfortunately that was a culture that has been ailing us. The boys have not had the mental strength of wanting to win.
“We want the guys to work hard because we got to dig ourselves from position13 and of cause qualify for Olympics,” the coach pointed out.
Meanwhile, Australian Iconz became the first team to arrive for Safari Sevens with Portugal, Namibia and Italy scheduled to jet in on Thursday.
Andrew Amonde (KCB, Captain), Jeff Oluoch (Menengai Cream Homeboyz),Oscar Dennis (Total Nondies),Nelson Oyoo (Top Fry Nakuru), Brian Tanga (Kabras Sugar), Augustine Lugonzo (Menengai Cream Homeboyz),William Ambaka (Kenya Harlequin), Kennedy Moseti (KCB), Biko Adema (Total Nondies), Philip KWame (TopFry Nakuru), Alvin Otieno (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), Frank Wanyama (Kenya Harlequin)
Coach: Benjamin Ayimba
Team Manager: Newton Ong’alo
Physio: Lameck Bogonko
Strength & Conditioning: Geoffrey Kimani
Eden Agero (Kenya Harlequin, Captain), Don Oluoch (Top Fry Nakuru), Shaban Ahmed (Mwamba), Bush Mwale (Menengai Homeboyz), Fidel Castro (Kabras Sugar), David Kivuti (Top Fry Nakuru),Robert Aringo (Resolution Impala Saracens), Abeka Stafford (KCB), Samuel Motari (Resolution Impala Saracens), Tony Onyango (Pan Africa Strathmore Leos), Geoffrey Ominde (Top Fry Nakuru),Collins Shikoli (Menengai Cream Homeboyz)
Coach: Paul Murunga
Team Manager: Erick Ogweno
Physio: Anthony Maina
Strength & Conditioning: Geoffrey Kimani