NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5- Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook has made four changes to the starting team that plays Uganda on Saturday afternoon in a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match which will also double up as the return leg of the Elgon Cup.
Two of those changes have been informed with injury, Tony Onyango and youngster Edmund Anya missing out after picking knocks against Zimbabwe in last weekend’s 45-36 win while the other two have come off tactical changes.
The experienced duo of Felix Ayange and Vincent Mose return to the starting team and Snook expects them to play a huge role as they look to keep their Gold Cup campaign on track. Jacob Ojee and Oliver Mang’eni who started off the bench are also drafted in the starting team.
“Anya got a few knocks in the game against Zimbabwe and so we thought we give him a full rest. Felix comes in on the wing for Tony (Onyango) who had some health issues. He could have played but we don’t want to put him under a lot of pressure. Oliver brought in a lot of impact off the bench and we thought good for him to start,” Snook said about his changes.
He added; “Felix has been outstanding in training and has been very keen to come on. He has dug in and worked hard so we are expecting a good performance. We know what he can do on the wing, so we really expect him to take the chance.”
Max Kang’eri and Kenya Cup winning captain Curtis Lilako who were part of the match day squad last weekend are also rested from the test against Uganda.
On the bench, Snook will have for the first time this season France based Simon Muniafu who will look to impress coming on as well as Kabras Sugar tight head prop Hillary Mwanjilwa who will be in line for his debut.
“We like what we see. He’s been training hard and we think he is a tough character. We need to look at him in the game because we didn’t have any pre-season games unfortunately, so we have to look at players in the game. We are still looking at players, still trying to get the strongest squad together,” the tactician further said.
The Ugandan Rugby Cranes come to Nairobi breathing revenge having lost 34-16 in the first leg played in May at the Legends Club in Kampala. The last time they were in Kenya’s capital they scraped off with a draw.
The side will see the return of Kabras Sugar star Philip Wokarach who has missed their first two games of the season for the Cranes. Wokarach was man of the match during the team’s last visit to Nairobi.
The team also has a host of players who play locally, and they will look to make the most for their national team.
Snook expects a tough game from the visitors but is keen to keep the Gold Cup campaign sailing having picked back to back wins against Zimbabwe and Morocco to place second with eight points in the standings.
“I am expecting a ferocious fast performance from them. Last time they put us under a lot of pressure with direct running and physicality and I’m sure that they plan to play again the same way. They have pace and skilled players capable of scoring tries and I am expecting a fairly fast game,” Snook said.
Kenya trails leaders Namibia with seven points though the Southern Africans have played a match more and have picked bonus points win in all their games.
Kenya in contrast have not picked a bonus point, but Snook is unfazed saying; “As long as we beat them in the final game, then those bonus points will not haunt us.”