The Kenya Sevens rugby team embarks on the 2014 IRB Sevens Series on Saturday morning in Gold Coast, Australia against American Samoa, Wales and South Africa without renegade first team stars who opted out owing to contractual disputes with the Kenya Rugby Union.
The 12-man team is comprised of five rookies looking forward to their debuts in the IRB series. Another four of the squad members boast of IRB experience but have previously struggled to hold regular positions in the team leaving KCB duo Andrew Amonde and Fabian Olando as the only seasoned players in the team.
Kenya plays the first match against minnows American Samoa at 4.40am (Kenyan time) on Saturday then take on wales at 8.01am. The opening fixture is fairly welcome to Kenya as it is winnable and should provide the team with the much needed impetus to take on the tougher teams in the pool.
Kenya coach Paul Treu then leads his charges against his former side South Africa at 11.17am in a match that offers scant hopes going by past results.
Among the five rookies are KCB’s Jacob Ojee who was voted most valuable player in the 2014 Safaricom Series and Strathmore’s teenage sensation Alex Olaba who featured for ‘Chipu, the kenyan junior side in the World Youth Games in Nanjing, China.
KCB workhorse Oliver Mang’eni, Homeboyz duo Bush Mwale and Michael Wanjala complete the rookies roster hoping to fill the big boots of the sulking stars left out of the team. Nakuru RFC’s Martin Owila, a late inclusion as a result of the unfortunate injury to Cyprian Kuto, Davies Chenge of Western Bulls and Lunch Bar Quins’ Max Theuri offer optimism in a team deemed feeble.
With the inclusion of free scoring Homeboyz forward Leonard Mugaisi, Treu’s tactics will surely be put to test.
Stakes are high in Gold Coast given the top four finishers this season will qualify directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics Games in Brazil, an event Treu was hired primarily to take Kenya to.