Rugby Rugby

Namcos eyes strong finish after tough season

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Kenya 7s coach Innocent Namcos Simiyu.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu has laid out an audacious bid of gunning for one of the two titles left on offer in the 2016/2017 World Rugby Sevens Series season.

The season will draw its curtains with the final tour in Europe with Paris (France) and London (United Kingdom) set to host the last two legs of the campaign.

Simiyu, speaking on Friday morning while unveiling his squad of 12 players for the final tour, is confident the team can atone for the lost points in the previous legs, adding they will be going all out to finish on a high.

“We have a bench mark of getting at least 10 points per tournament but the thing is, we will be looking at the possibility of winning one of these two tournaments. We have enough firepower to secure a win and recover some of the points we have lost in the season,” the tactician said.

Collins Injera in action against France at Singapore Sevens 2016, HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. PHOTO/ Martin Seras Lima

Heading to Paris and London, Shujaa will be without influential vice captain Collins Injera who is out nursing a knee injury which kept him out of the last leg in Singapore. In his place, Simiyu has called in Kenya Cup top points scorer Darwin Mukidza.

Simiyu has hinted they did not want to risk Injera especially ahead of a busy calendar coming up next year with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup qualifiers beckoning.

“We are assessing the best way forward; it is either we let it heal on its own or we opt for a minor operation. We didn’t want him to go out because obviously we have very important tournaments and a heavy season next year,” the coach explained.

-Mukidza included-

Darwin Mukidza

On the inclusion of Mukidza who has also been named in the Kenya 15s team for the upcoming matches Simiyu said, “He (Mukidza) has been playing well locally and he can give us an edge in terms of attacking with his speed.”

Kenya Sevens will square it out with hosts France, Spain and England in Paris and Simiyu is especially looking at the fixture against England, hoping to get a first win in close to a decade.

“England will be emotional. We have been coming close to beating them but we haven’t especially in our last meeting when I really thought we should have beaten them. This time we will try and secure a win over them,” Simiyu noted.

Shujaa are placed 11th in the log on 57 points in what has been an under-performing season with the team having reached only two Main Cup quarter finals, but have won two Challenge Trophies in Wellington and Las Vegas.

Samuel Oliech looks on after his side’s loss to Kenya on day two of the HSBC Singapore Sevens, round eight of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Photo: Martin Seras Lima

Simiyu has conceded the team fell short of its targets, but blamed it on various factors which he says dragged progress.

“I will rate the season on a six but based on the circumstances we have endured, the players have done their best. From lack of pre season to issues off the pitch, we have really done well in my opinion,” the coach said.

He added; “This was more of a foundation year to look at building up the structures and a sustainable system to challenge for the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games next year as well as a good platform for the Olympics in 2020.”

His sentiments were shared by the Kenya Rugby Union director of national squads Ian Mugambi.

“We have had a difficult season because it’s been a transition season with a number of changes in the set up. Change sometimes is difficult. As a board we are pleased with the progress the team has been making. They have been growing in leaps and bounds in the tournaments they have played,” Mugambi noted.

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