NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19- Nakuru RFC strongman Oscar ‘Wheels’ Ouma will skipper the national team as they head out to the second tour of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Sidney Australia and Hamilton, New Zealand.
There had been doubt that Shujaa would travel to the two legs of the series due to lack of finances after the pull-out of headline sponsors SportPesa at the beginning of the month.
However, a source at KRU has intimated that the union gathered a few shillings from within its coffers to ensure that the team will travel with the government yet to drop a single penny after an earlier promise.
Shujaa sit 11th on the World Rugby Sevens standings with 13 points and will hope for an improved performance in the two legs with head coach Innocent Simiyu putting a target of at least 10 points in each.
“We have targets as a team and above all we want to see an improved performance overall. We are short seven points from our target and hopefully we can recoup them over these two legs,” Simiyu said in a previous interview with Capital Sport.
The squad of 13 named on Thursday evening will see the return of influential former skipper Andrew Amonde who has been out since September after undergoing surgery to tame a hernia injury.
Menengai Oilers’ Erick Ombasa has also been handed his first tour with Shujaa. Ombassa had been named in the squad for the Cape Town Sevens last year but later pulled out due to a visa hitch. He will now be in line to make his debut.
His oilders teammate Samuel “Smurf” Muregi and KCB’s Arthur Owira who debuted in Cape Town are again included for the trip down under while another debutante Herman Humwa misses out after featuring in Dubai and Cape Town.
Regular skipper Oscar Ayodi will miss the two legs and is expected to be back in march after undergoing a knee surgery following an injury picked up in Cape Town. Collins Injera and Billy Odhiambo are yet to gain full fitness and will not be part of the team.
Coach Simiyu, speaking to Kenya Rugby, said,” We have trained well and are sure that the players will give a good performance. Our key focus is to meet our set standards consistently. We have a few injuries which gives an opportunity for the young players who have earned the right to wear the jersey, to represent the country and keep the pride up there. We know they will make us proud.”
Shujaa leave the country for Australia on Sunday and they have been pooled with Argentina, France and Wales for the Sidney Sevens.
Oscar Ouma (Nakuru, Captain), Samuel Oliech (Impala Saracens, Vice Captain), Dan Sikuta, Brian Tanga (Kabras Sugar),Eden Agero, Willy Ambaka (Kenya Harlequins), Andrew Amonde, Arthur Owira (KCB), Jeff Oluoch, Augustine Lugonzo (Homeboyz),Nelson Oyoo (Nakuru), Erick Ombasa, Samuel Ng’ethe (Menengai Oilers).