NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8- The national rugby sevens team has been boosted with the return of influential skipper Andrew Amonde who has been out injured since last September after undergoing hernia surgery.
Amonde has been training with Shujaa as they step up their preparations for the Sidney and Hamilton legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series at the end of the month and first week of February respectively.
“I am very pleased that Amonde is back and fully fit and he will be in contention for a place in the team to Sidney and Hamilton. It is some good news for us because definitely of his experience and the kind of dynamism he brings in,” Shujaa head coach Innocent Simiyu told Capital Sport.
Speaking separately, Amonde says he is delighted to return and has vowed to work his way up to regain 100 percent fitness and be in perfect shape for Sidney and Hamilton.
“Being back with the boys is great but I feel there is so much I need to do in the next two weeks to ensure I am in good shape especially fitness. We have quite a tough season ahead and it is great to return early enough,” the skipper opined.
Speed-star and the all-time second top try scorer on the World Rugby charts Collins Injera and his Mwamba RFC teammate Billy Odhiambo have also both returned to light training, but Simiyu says they will not be fully fit to play until the next tour in Vegas and Vancouver.
Oscar Ayodi will also not be available sooner than the Vegas leg after undergoing surgery.
However, SImiyu sees this as a blessing in disguise as it has given him the opportunity to expose more players while the experienced lot will be back in full fitness in time for the Commonwealth Games in April and by a long shot, the Rugby &s World Cup.
“It is a huge boost in terms of planning. We have to be on top form for Commonwealth and the World Cup and having a fully fit squad by then is a big plus for us and raises our hopes of getting a medal and we believe we will secure one,” the tactician further commented.
Shujaa haven’t started the season well, managing to pick only 13 points from a target of 20, but Simiyu is still holding on that the team has performed well, only lacking in a few areas especially consistency.
“From our assessment the biggest challenge we had was consistency. In terms of stats we were impressive, but we fell short in a few games which we really should have wrapped. If you dig deeper you will notice that it is the lack of pre-season tournaments from where we would have been able to fine tune,” Simiyu pointed out.
He now shifts his attention to Sidney on January 26-28 before heading to Hamilton, New Zealand the following weekend on February 3-4. In Australia, Shujaa have been pooled with Argentina, Wales and France.
Simiyu says the target remains to pick at least 10 points per leg and he hopes to compensate for the seven points deficit after the opening two legs of the series. He has urged the team though to ensure consistency and he believes the targets will be met.
The tactician is coming into the second year of his contract and pressure is definitely mounting on him after questionable performance in his first season in charge. However, the tactician says he is ‘more relaxed than ever’.
“We know we have done the work and the results will come; it’s not a big issue. To be honest I think the positives outweigh the negatives from last year. We have made so much improvement and definitely we will do better,” the coach assured.
Prime in his targets is to medal in both the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup while the target of winning two of the remaining eight legs of the series.