NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu hopes the recent misgivings of losing games at the death in the Asian tour of the World Rugby Sevens Series will hasten the process of bringing in a sports psychologist to help the team see out matches.
Shujaa lost in crucial moments in Hong Kong and Singapore with last minute tries. The most unfortunate was in Singapore where they lost a 12-0 lead to England in the Main Cup quarters as well as against New Zealand in the 5th place play off.
“We have to look at how do we keep the focus and ensure we see out matches to the last minute and win. There’s an element of losing temperament in the last minute and we saw this against Canada, England and New Zealand. We have to address the mental strength of players and this will now hasten the process of bringing in a sports psychologist to help us achieve that,” SImiyu said.
The team returned from the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the series having picked a total of 17 points, three shy of the 20 mark target.
Simiyu says he was impressed with the performance of the team but has conceded they have to engage in a higher gear as they head to the final European tour of Paris and England.
“The tour had its ups and downs if you look at how we started. We had hiccups of depth again because we missed two players and it took a while to get to our feet, It was unfortunate we lost in the Challenge Trophy final in Hong Kong.”
“Singapore was okay though it was painful when we lost to England,” the tactician opined.
While pointing out they were aggrieved by poor officiating and made their sentiments known to the World Rugby referee manager, Simiyu has acknowledged the team should learn to kill the game early and prevent errors.
“There are a few calls we didn’t agree with but for us what we need to do is look at things more internally; what can we do to ensure we seal the game early. We had six unforced errors and two tries we should have scored. We need to address those errors and look at an execution rate of at least 90 percent,” the tactician noted.
His sentiments were shared by skipper Andrew Amonde who also added the young squad is still learning, and expects them to be better for the final round of the season.
“This is a new team we are trying to build and there is some maturity coming into the team. We were very unfortunate in Singapore; we had our chances we didn’t take them. We now need to be more clinical and finish game early.”
“The young guns in the team are taking time to adjust, but we are growing and able to play through the game as compared to the first few rounds when we couldn’t do well in the second half. Results will come with time and we should only try to be patient with the boys,” Amonde added.
The team now shifts attention to the Paris 7s from May 13 where they are in Pool C alongside the hosts France, England and Spain.
“We are coming off a good tournament and so we should have the momentum going into Paris. In these last two trips we have a lot to prove. We have the psyche and fire and we are looking forward to getting to step up and get good results,” Amonde added.
Coach Simiyu admits it will be a tough pool, but reiterated the team will still be out to get in the least to the Main Cup quarters.