NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – The Kenya Sevens team will hope to invoke the spirits of their 2013 campaign when they get into the pitch for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at Wellington Sevens in New Zealand early Saturday morning.
In that year, Shujaa came closest to their first ever Main Cup triumph but only went down to a last ditch England try, losing 24-19 in the final.
Kenya had a superb campaign on its way to the finals, beating giants South Africa in the cup quarters then went on to shock hosts New Zealand in the semi-finals.
Though their campaigns in the next years wasn’t as spectacular, it is the 2013 spirit that head coach Innocent Simiyu and his charges will seek to follow, with their target being straight victories in the groups. Kenya is in Pool A alongside England, Argentina and Papua New Guinea.
“We have prepared the players in the best way we can. For us it is more about game management. I believe we have enough to beat England, Argentina and Papua New Guinea,” a confident Simiyu said before the team left for New Zealand.
With 17 points accrued in the opening two legs of the series in Dubai and Cape Town, Simiyu hopes his side picks up more in Wellington before the next stop of the tour in Sidney Australia.
The coach’s pre-season aim was to get at least 10 points in every leg and he will be out to compensate the deficit of three, having started the season badly in Dubai picking only five points.
“We have some experienced players coming in and of course we will put some more pressure on them in terms of performance and we hopefully believe we can recover those three points in this tour,” Simiyu said.
He has called up three new faces from the side that played in the opening two legs, World Series top try scorer Collins Injera returning as well as Oscar Ouma and Sammy Oliech taking up the places of Martin Owila, Darwin Mukidza and Frank Wanyama.
The experience and leadership brought in excites the coach who believes they have done enough in the last four weeks of training and they will be a different outfit.
Skipper Andrew Amonde is also confident the return of the three is a timely boost and adds the lengthy training period they have had since Cape Town has helped them improve especially in fitness and is confident they will give their best.
“For us, our target is to improve on where we left and we are going to work hard and we promise to put our effort to get the results we want. This is the perfect time because we have trained the whole of January and we have named a good squad full of experience and we are looking forward to this tournament. We will go there to prove ourselves,” Amonde opined.
Among the things the coach has worked on include conversions and kick off reception, areas that were a weak point in the first two legs.
Simiyu disclosed he took more time in training with the kickers and is confident they will earn more points from conversions than they did in Dubai and Cape Town.
Shujaa begin their Wellington campaign at 2:32am Kenyan time against Argentina before facing Papua New Guinea at 5:56am and finishing up the pool action against England at 10:10am on Saturday.