Rugby Rugby

‘Namcos’ relishing Shujaa challenge

Innocent Simiyu in previous Kenya Sevens action.
Innocent Simiyu in previous Kenya Sevens action.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Newly appointed Kenya Sevens head coach innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu believes he is the right man for the job as he prepares for his first assignment when the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series kick-off with the Dubai 7s in December.

The 33-year old said despite not having coached the national team before, the experience from his active playing days will come in handy as he takes over the role for the next two seasons.

“Transiting from playing to coaching the national team is a big thing personally. It feels great and I can’t wait to get started on this huge journey as we seek to improve the team,” the incoming coach told Capital Sport.

Simiyu, who came back to active rugby this season after fully recovering from a career threatening injury in 2011, captained the national Sevens team between 2006 and 2008 and has been part of both the 7s and 15s national team set up since 2002.

He has downplayed lack of experience saying he has been improving his coaching skills during the period he was out with injury.

“I have a level 1 and 2 coaching certificate and I am currently working on my level three. If it’s about experience, then I think I have what it takes. Since 2011 I have been coaching and also having been with the national teams for more than a decade, I believe that is enough for me to start up,” Simiyu outlined.

His appointment has received support from national team captain Andrew Amonde who says they will give him maximum support as he starts his journey.

“He was put through a rigorous process and I believe he is the right man for the job. As players we will give him maximum support and help him where we can. The good thing is that he is not new to the national team and he knows what to expect and how we play the game,” Amonde, who skippered the team to their first ever Main Cup title in Singapore, said.

“We also expect a lot from him. He is a great guy and has a lot of potential to take this team even further and I think at the moment there’s no better man than him.”

Simiyu (above) in test match action for Kenya against Uganda in Nairobi on 30 July 2016
Simiyu (above) in test match action for Kenya against Uganda in Nairobi on 30 July 2016

Kenya is drawn in a tricky Pool D alongside France, Australia and Japan for the Dubai 7s which will take place on the weekend of December 2 and Simiyu is looking forward to start on a high.

“We will definitely want to start well, but at the moment, it is too early to start talking about our targets and what we expect. We want to sit down as a squad, look at the whole season and set out our targets. It is a long road ahead and we need the support of everyone,” Simiyu said.

Commenting on the group, Amonde said; “The World Rugby Series at the moment is not easy. Every team comes out wanting to win and now that the format has been changed, it is going to be tough for everyone.”

“We know the bar we set high last season and definitely we can’t go lower. We need to sit down as a team and strategize and I believe we can do very well.”

Simiyu has hinted he will choose to retain the experienced core of the team, while also pointing out he will inject fresh blood in the team.

“It is important to have those who have played for long because of transition. We also need to blend in the young players because only under such balance will we achieve results.”

The Kenya Rugby Union has given him a free hand to select his assistant, but he says he hasn’t yet picked a final candidate as he is to hold further discussions with his bosses on Tuesday.