Rugby Rugby

Injera set for return ahead of Wellington

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Kenya Sevens Vice captain Collins Injera PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14- Kenya head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu has hinted World Rugby Sevens all-time top try scorer Collins Injera will be in line to return to the squad ahead of next month’s Wellington and Sidney legs of the series, but has warned he is not assured of a place in the team.

The Mwamba RFC utility man missed the first two legs in Dubai and Cape Town over what the coach termed as match fitness, but speaking to Capital Sport, Simiyu says he has received positive reports on Injera’s progress.

“We have a camp next week and another in January to asses where they (players) are, but from the feedback we are getting from the team manager, he (Injera)has been doing very well and has even scored five tries in four games which is quite impressive,” Simiyu said of the former deputy captain.

“We are impressed with his physical condition. The next two camps we will look at how we can integrate him into the team because positions have to be fought for. You can only add players who add value to the team,” he added.

Injera who broke Santiago Gomez Cora’s record of 230 tries last season has his work cut out especially with Simiyu praising the impact and improvement of the new players over the last two legs.

Among the new faces in the team include Martin Owila who scored his first career try in Cape Town, Brian Tanga and Darwin Mukidza.

Simiyu said there was much improvement in the second leg of the series in South Africa and attributed the below par performance in Dubai to jitters of the opening tournament.

Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu during the KRU, SportPesa launch.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya.

“They were quite impressive in how they played. There were hiccups in the first tournament but it is part of the game and a learning process.”

“Tanga controlled the game very well for us and their performance offers a good platform to build on a team for the future,” Simiyu said.

His sentiments were shared by Captain Andrew Amonde who was impressed that even as the old generation of players start phasing out, a new group of enthusiastic and success-hungry players is building up.

“The new lads are adapting to the game really quickly and that’s a good thing. Looking at the future we have a very good team,” said the skipper.

Kenya picked 17 points from the first tour, just three shy of a target of 20 set out at the beginning of the season.

The performance in Cape Town was better than the opening leg in Dubai with Kenya picking 12 points after finishing sixth.

“The team played very well though we were unfortunate with some of the results. We just did the same things we did in Dubai but this time the execution was very key for us.”

“We focused on that and it paid up. Unfortunately we couldn’t go all the way but we got to the plate final which was positive and we want to see the same to launch into the next tournament,” Simiyu offered.

Cyprian Kuto of Kenya scoring against Fiji during day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, December 10, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA/World Rugby)

The tactician says the team will be working on perfecting their strong areas as well as improving in the weak areas which include reception at kick off, defense as well as the conversion rate.

Simiyu has hinted the team will be incorporating the services of a kicking coach to help the team’s kickers improve.

“Conversions have been a thorn for a while in the team. It is a skill and you really need to be keen with it. The next thing for us is to put more emphasis on training with the kickers so that we get it right.”

“We need a success rate of 75 % and we will look at getting in a kicking coach to help us in that area because it is key,” Simiyu opined.

Apart from the kicking coach, Simiyu says the team will be getting a new development coach and a team analyst as well as a nutrition and psychology consultant to enhance the performance of the squad.

He has however ruled out the hiring of a new assistant coach till May next year.

Shujaa’s next focus will be on the third leg of the series in Wellington, New Zealand on January 28 and the Kenyans will be in a tough pool against England, Argentina and Papua New Guinea.

The team believes from the benchmark set up in Cape Town, they will be able to perform better even as they eye a second ever main cup title.

“Our main goals are always there. We want to win a trophy, and not just one but more than that. We are looking at building a team that can continuously go and win and from what we have seen in the first two legs, we are on the right track,” skipper Amonde opined.

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