NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18- Kenya Sevens strength and conditioning coach Ian Gibbons has claimed the condition of the players when he took over was very poor, saying they had not been used to training at a high intensity.
The Englishman with a 10-year experience in strength and conditioning however says between his first session and now, the players have shown remarkable improvement and he remains confident they can reach the highest levels by the time they get to the fifth leg of the World Sevens Series.
“The condition of the players to be honest with you was pretty poor. They are just not used to train at high intensity. They are used to slow and long duration kind of work and what we have tried to do with Innocent (Simiyu) is raise that intensity throughout the week,” Gibbons who took over from Geoffrey Kimani said.
“We are slowly improving. We have a long way to go and I think we all have to understand to play international sevens you should have the ability to run 120, 130 metres per minute which is tough going for 14 minutes for six games across the weekend. We can’t get that overnight but we are looking to try and get there,” he added.
The low fitness levels of the players was evident in the opening two legs of the series in Dubai and Cape Town where the players struggled to apply the same intensity throughout the weekend.
Gibbons has blamed this on the lack of a proper pre-season, adding the players have been forced to train hard and play in between the matches in the first two legs and the performance should be lauded.
The trainer has also added the country does not have much of strength and conditioning resources, but says he will work with the Kenya Rugby Union to ensure the same is achieved.
“The main reason I am here is to try improve the program. There’s been a lack of resource and in the past the coaches have done a great job with the lack of resource and part of my role here is to try and improve the resource and to develop a program that can be sustainable and have longevity once I’m gone,” Gibbons commented.
He has already proved to be a big hit with the players and head coach Innocent Simiyu has admitted he has brought positive changes to the team.
“Ian (Gibbons) is a brilliant guy with very huge experience. He has come with brilliant ideas and the boys are happy to have him around. We expect to see the results over the next legs of the series and we should be able to see how much progress we have made as a team,” skipper Andrew Amonde said of the new trainer.
Apart from helping the team improve in their physical condition as well as keep them injury free, Gibbons has also committed to help the players better in their skill, an area he says has been lacking from the matches he has watched in the country.
“I have put in a plan where the guys are doing some skill work and come back to do some fitness work and I think they have grasped that on board. I have exposed them to lots of high speed running to ensure they can handle those worst case scenarios on the field.”
“Previously, I have watched them on the series. The guys have a lot of potential to play at a higher pace. The way the training is and where we are taking the program they will be able to play at that high intensity for a long time to come,” the coach stated.