NAIROBI, May 4 – Strathmore Leos scrum half Alex Olaba is the new inclusion as the Kenya Sevens head coach Benjamin Ayimba made two changes from the victorious Singapore 7s squad ahead of the ninth and tenth rounds in Paris and London.
Making a return from injury is Strathmore Leos speedster Billy Odhiambo who missed the Hong Kong and the Singapore tournaments due to an ankle injury.
Olaba, who takes the place of Impala Saracen’s Samuel Motari, becomes the ninth player to be exposed this season as Ayimba looks to form a formidable team that will compete at the Olympic Games slatted for Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in August.
Olaba makes a return to the team after featuring last in 2014 at the Dubai 7s when South African Paul Treu was in charge.
Speaking Wednesday when announcing the travelling party of 12 players led by skipper Andrew Amonde, Ayimba disclosed that the team is under no pressure after their historic first Main Cup win at the last stop in Singapore where the tournament was held for the first time in a decade.
“We know what we are supposed to do when we head for the final two rounds which will be competitive. We are aware of the expectations needed from us after winning the Singapore tournament and we know teams will be coming hard on us but we are equal to the task,” Ayimba said.
Other core players who were injured alongside Odhiambo, Nakuru RFC loose forward Oscar Ouma and fly half Biko Adema are still under rehabilitation but the coach was upbeat they will be ready for the Olympics.
“Oscar is recovering well and we are hopeful he will be in for the Olympics. Biko will get the cast off his hand next week and he should be ready for the Olympics where I’m confident I have a team that will win gold.”
Ouma, who picked up a knee injury during the second leg in Cape Town but aggravated in Las Vegas, underwent successful surgery last week but the presence of Odhiambo who replaces Alvin Otieno gives Ayimba a boost.
There were concerns that the team was on a go-slow since they are yet to be contracted by the Kenya Rugby Union as well as receive winning bonuses but Ayimba confirmed that will not distract their ambitions of repeating Singapore Sevens glory.
“We know our sponsor Kenya Airways is going through difficult times and we understand. From the beginning we said we are not playing for money but the contracts issue is something we are working on and will settle soon but it has not affected our training whosoever,” Ayimba, who became the first ever coach to win a Cup title with Kenya Sevens, declared.
The team that headline Pool A for the penultimate round in Paris will face heavy weights New Zealand, Portugal and Russia next weekend before rounding off the season on the weekend of May 21 in London.
Andrew Amonde (KCB), Collins Injera, Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba), Sammy Oliech, Robert Aringo, (Impala), Oscar Ayodi, Augustine Lugonzo (Homeboyz), Alex Olaba, Billy Odhiambo (Strathmore), Frank Wanyama, Willy Ambaka (Harlequins), Nelson Oyoo (Nakuru).