NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 –The national Rugby 15s side has been invited to play in the Hong Kong four-nations tournament set for November in the Asian country as part of their preparations ahead of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers.
Simbas team manager Wangila Simiyu told Capital Sport the tourney which will include the hosts as well as Papua New Guinea and Russia will be vital in exposing the players more and building their fitness for a place in the World Cup.
“Winning is all about preparations and for us that is very key. It is a huge plus for us getting such kind of exposure and it is not only good for the team but the clubs as well. Ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, we need to change our gears and aim higher and this is one bit that will be vital for us,” Simiyu said.
The team which has already started preparations for the new season is scheduled for a 10-day training camp in South Africa with two friendly matches planned, one against Western Province.
The season kicks off with an international test match against Germany on May 27 before back to back Elgon Cup matches against Uganda on 10th and 24th June with the second leg to be played in Nairobi also set to double up as a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match.
They will then face Tunisia and Senegal on 8th and 15th July in Nairobi before travelling to Central Africa where they play Namibia and Zimbabwe on 22nd and 29th July. A top four finish for the Simbas will see them move on to round three of the World Cup qualifiers which begin in 2018.
In August, they will play two other test matches against Hong Kong, both in Nairobi on 19th and 26th.
“World Rugby okaying our test matches shows just how seriously they have taken us and the onus is now on us to prove our worth. I think we have laid out very good preparations and we will see the fruits,” Wangila added.
He has also exuded confidence in the squad that was selected last week by head coach Jerome Paarwater, saying the blend of youth and experience will ensure constant competition.