NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Kenya 15’s head coach Jerome Paarwater has wielded the axe on several senior players as he named his final squad of 40 to do duty for the national team this season.
Among the players who have been axed are skipper Brian Nyikuli, the KCB duo of Oliver Mang’eni and Curtis Lilako, Nakuru’s Sammy Warui and Max Adaka who skippered Kabras Sugar to the 2016 Kenya Cup title.
Team manager Wangila Simiyu has insisted the squad was chosen based on form.
“The squad has been selected based on merit, dedication, respect and hard work. The players selected are those who have stood up to be counted,” said Simiyu.
In his final squad, Paarwater has included former Kenya Sevens star Humphrey Kayange who has been in blistering form for Mwamba RFC in the Kenya Cup. Other Kenya Sevens players who have been included include Darwin Mukidza, Martin Owila and Biko Adema.
The team will also see the return of Kenya Harlequins’ and former captain Wilson Kopondo whose last appearance for the national team was during the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
The Simbas, now ranked 24th globally, have a busy calendar that starts with their Elgon Cup defense away to Uganda in June, before playing the Rugby Cranes in the return leg a fortnight later.
The Elgon Cup match, just like last year will double up as the opening round of the Africa Gold Cup where they also face Tunisia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
They will also play for a second time, a two match test against Hong Kong in Nairobi in August.
The South African tactician has made it clear his aim will be to see Kenya qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup whose qualifiers begin next year. The thirst and hunger is driven by the miss by inches for the 2015 edition.
Philip Ikambili (Homeboyz),Peter Karia (KCB),George Asin (KCB)
Mclanhan Shikuku (Kenya Harlequins), James Kubasu (Impala Saracens),Moses Amusala (KCB),Bramwell Mayaka (Homeboyz),Dennis Karani (Impala Saracens), Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), Hillary Mwanjilwa (Kabras Sugar)
Wilson Kopondo (Kenya Harlequins),Emmanuel Mavala (Homeboyz),Eric Kerre (Impala Saracens),Simon Muniafu (Impala Saracens),George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar)
Elkeans Musonye (Strathmore Leos),Davis Chenge (KCB),Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba),Roxy Suchi (Kenya Harlequins),Steve Otieno (Homeboyz),Martin Owila (KCB),Edwin Machanje (Mwamba)
Kelvin Masai (Homeboyz),Samson Onsomu (Impala Saracens),Edwin Achayo (Kabras Sugar)
Isaac Adimo (Kenya Harlequins),Nato Simiyu (Impala Saracens), Biko Adema (Nondecripts)
Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequins), Nick Barasa (Kabras Sugar), Benjamin Marshall (Nondescripts), Brad Owako ( Mwamba), David Ambunya (Kenya Harlequins), Peter Kilonzo (KCB), Leo Seje (Impala Saracens)
Dennis Muhanji (Kenya Harlequins), Alex Olaba (Strathmore Leos), Darwin Mukidza (KCB), Kevin Keegan (Kenya Harlequins), Tony Onyango (Homeboyz)