NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17- Despite lacking much of a coaching experience, the Kenya Rugby Union is confident Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu will do well as the new Kenya 7s coach after being announced as Benjamin Ayimba’s successor on a two-year contract.
Simiyu, who also captained the Kenya Sevens team from 2006-2008, will take over the team with immediate effect, less than six weeks before his first assignment at the season-opening Dubai Sevens in December.
“Even when Benja (Benjamin Ayimba) took over he was fairly young. It is not a question of age but a question of experience He was an excellent 7s and 15s player and we think he’s got what it takes to deliver on the job,” KRU boss Richard Omwela said.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Simiyu said he was excited upon receiving the news that he will be the new man at the helm, but said he would comment further after getting an official confirmation from the Union.
The 33-year old whose only coaching experience came while taking charge of his club Impala RFC in 2012 has been given a free hand by the Union to select his own assistant.
Meanwhile, Omwela has confirmed they held talks with former New Zealand tactician Gordon Tietjens with the Union’s headline sponsors Sportpesa having committed to pay the All Blacks legend’s salary.
However, the two could not reach an agreement and Tietjens ended up taking the role with Samoa.
“There were about five countries looking for his signature. Kenya was among them and we had talked to him as late as last week and we had to postpone the press conference because at that time he had not said yes or no,” Omwela revealed.
He added they sought to have faith in a local coach even when they had an option of going for Fijian Sailosi Naiteqe.
Only physio Lameck Bogonko remains from the last set of technical bench members with Englishman Ian Gibbons appointed as the strength and conditioning coach replacing Geoffrey Kimani while Blackblad RFC Team Manager Erick Ogweno takes over national team duties in the same capacity.
The new coach will work with a squad provided for him by the national selectors after the conclusion of the Sevens season, but Omwela addirmed he will make out his final squad totally with a free hand.
Kenya will be preparing for the first stop of the 2016/2017 World Rugby Sevens Series and they will be in a tough pool alongside Australia, France and Japan.
Omwela is however, confident that despite the fact he won’t have as much time to prepare, Simiyu will be able to guide the team to success.
“We’ve just come out of a sevens circuit season and we also won the safari sevens so we believe it is only a question of strength and conditioning for the players to be able to gel. We have enough time to train for Dubai,” Omwela offered.
With the team having done exceptionally well last season finishing eighth with the second highest ever points haul of 98 as well as winning a main cup for the first time in Singapore, the work is cut out for SImiyu.