Rugby Rugby

World Cup qualification tops Snook’s agenda

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New Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook (right) chjats with his assistant Murray Roulston (left) when they met the squad for the first time on April 12, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 12- Despite arriving in the country just two months before the qualification process for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan begins, New Zealander Ian Snook is confident he can guide the Kenya 15s to their first ever global showpiece.

Snook arrived in the country on Monday with his assistant, fellow countryman Murray Roulston, and officially unveiled by the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) as the new Simbas head coach on Thursday morning.

He replaces South African Jerome Paarwater who left at the end of last year.

“We didn’t come here to not do that and at the end of the day we will be disappointed so much if we failed to accomplish that target. A lot of hard work needs to be done before then; we start on Saturday morning and give it the best shot,” Snook said.

“You always want more (time) but we have had a good look at it. We need to be very clear with how we want to go about things. It is up to us to do the right things over a short period of time to get the most effect. I am confident working with Murray it will happen,” the tactician further added.

New Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook with his assistant Murray Roulston when they met the squad for the first time on April 12, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The Simbas start their qualification campaign away to Morocco on June 23 before hosting Zimbabwe in Nairobi a week later.

They will then host neighbors Uganda on July 7 before the championship takes a four week break occasioned by the Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place from 20-22 July in San Francisco, USA.

The chase will resume on August 11 when the Simbas host Tunisia in Nairobi before playing away to Namibia on August 18.

Snook met with the squad briefly on Thursday but it will not be until Saturday that he will have a full meeting to map out his plan for the road to Japan.

His assistant Murray has revealed that at first, it was him that KRU had started negotiations with before pointing their way to Snook. However, Murray reveals that he ended up coming after all when Snook insisted he wanted to work with him.

“I thought it was exciting to go and try out something unique for a country with immense talent and to me this was a great challenge when Snook said he had to come with me. I am 110 pc certain we can get them to the World Cup everything being equal,” Murray said.

He added; “If we get the tight five a bit fitter and then get the team playing into our style, then we definitely be at the World Cup. There are only a few concerns around fitness but in two months we can have that done.”

New Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook with his assistant Murray Roulston chatting with Joshua Chisanga before a training session on April 12, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The new coach admitted that he doesn’t have much knowledge about Kenyan rugby but adds that he has watched a few clips from last year’s games and it is convincing that with a little work, the team can be molded into world beaters.

While Snook will be the overall head in charge of the team as well as training of the attack, Roulston will be in charge of analysis and training of the defense.

“We feel we are in the right place at the right time. We have an understanding of what we need to do here, we have started talking to the coaches, we have also met Wilson (Kopondo) who is a very impressive captain and we like what we are seeing,”

Hopefully we can introduce something special to Kenyan rugby,” Snook further noted.

The tactician has further asked for support from all the stakeholders as they seek to drive Kenya to their first ever World Cup after narrowly missing out the 2015 showpiece by a single point.

The two new technical bench members have also said they will introduce three-day weekend camps to ensure they cover more in training without disruption.

“If we need to do well the players need to have the belief. Our first target coming here is to make the players fit enough and then make them believe they can play. Already, there’s been some good work on strength and conditioning but obviously we want to see some improvement,”

“They will need to work harder than they are now and from Saturday we are stepping it up,” Snook further said.

The two coaches will also be involved in working with club coaches and rugby development with the youngsters as they look to imprint a similar brand of rugby throughout the country.

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