NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Winning Saturday’s World Rugby test match against Germany will be a big motivation for the Kenya 15s team as they prepare for the new season, skipper Wilson K’Opondo and Team manager Wangila Simiyu have said.
The Simbas will take on their German Counterparts at the RFUEA grounds in their first competitive match this season.
“We are playing at home and the levels of pressure are intense, but then no one wants to lose whether home or away. We know Germany will come hard on us but this is it for us, it sets the tone for our season,” skipper K’Opondo said.
He added; “We are looking to make sure everything we are trying to set up going forward comes into play from this weekend and infront of our home fans, it is more than important to win.”
Head coach Jerome Paarwater has named a squad blended with youth and experience for the Germany tie and team manager Simiyu has affirmed they are ready to do their best especially having come through from a 10-day camp in South Africa.
“Apart from giving us a good leap into the season, we are also looking at the rankings. Winning will be key in earning us more points. The players are really up to the task because we have done a lot of work over the past one month since we started training,” Simiyu noted.
The team had a training camp courtesy of Super Rugby side Western Province where they put up and trained in their facilities in Cape Town as well as playing training matches.
“It was a good experience because if you want to play against the best, you have to train with the best. The boys got very good exposure in those 10 days where we focused on fine tuning a few technical areas which we though needed polishing.”
“We also worked on preparing the boys to perform at a high level both physically and mentally. To perform well, you not only need to be very fit physically but mentally as well,” the Team manager added.
Germany are placed 25th in the World Rugby Standings, just a spot below Kenya and both K’Opondo and Simiyu admit they will not take them lightly.
“We approach them with a lot of caution because we respect them a lot since they have done well in the European circuit and are not a team to be taken for granted,” Simiyu noted.
Skipper K’Opondo who returns to the team after two years added;
“We have looked at what they have to offer; they are smart technically and quick on their feet. We have to be upfront with them and ensure we are defensively sound. They are a very technical team as well and we will try to disrupt their rhythm. We will also try to run them a lot and see if they can keep up with this altitude of ours,” the skipper opined.
After the Germany clash, Kenya shifts attention to the Elgon Cup against Uganda with the first leg set for June 10 in Kampala. The return tie which will be played 14 days later in Nairobi will also double up as a Rugby Africa gold cup match.
Simbas will then play Tunisia and Senegal at home on July 8 and 15 then travel to play Zimbabwe and Namibia on 22 and 29 July in the final two matches in the African Gold Cup. Shujaa will also have two test matches against Hong Kong in August before shifting attention to the World Cup qualifiers.
“That is our ultimate goal and the matches we are playing will give us a chance to look at the deficiencies, try out a few new people and unplug any shortfalls we might have on the way. We really have to work hard from here onward,” K’Opondo added.
Team manager SImiyu has also called on more sponsors to come on board to ensure the team plays more test matches as well as improve the training facilities to ensure the team achieves the dream of playing in the World Cup, one they missed by inches in 2014.