Rugby Anya, Were to make Africa Gold Cup debuts for national 15s team

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, June 23rd 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
Members of the national 15's side practice while donning their new playing kit during the unveiling ceremony at the RFUEA grounds in Nairobi county, June 19, 2018. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Kenya Simbas coach Ian Snook is looking forward to a physical, but exciting game as the national 15s team begin the Rugby Africa Gold Cup cum World Cup qualifiers campaign today at 7pm in Casablanca, Morocco.

Though the New Zealander, who replaced South African Jerome Paarwater in April, made a winning debut in Simbas’ 34-16 over Uganda in last month’s Elgon Cup, he is wary of the threat posed by a physical North African side.

Morocco were held to a 23-23 draw by hosts Zimbabwe in their opening match last weekend.

However, with his side’s impressive training and preparation Snook is confident of a positive start in the tournament whose title has eluded Kenya for years.  

“Morocco is a big, strong, physical side. We’ve always felt confident ever since we came.

“The boys have been training hard and we are feeling confident that if we play as we’ve been training, we are in with a good shot,” said Snook.

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The tactician was quick to defend his decision to include the uncapped quintet of Edmund Anya, Colman Were, Mohammed Omollo, Zedden Marrow and Max Kang’eri in the final 23-man squad.

Anya and Were will both make their Africa Gold Cup debuts after being included in the starting line-up, while Omollo, Marrow and Kang’eri will all start from the bench.

“Anya is a really exciting player. He is a back three player with lots of pace and talent. We are pretty excited about what he has to offer.

“It is obvious it is a very big first game for him but we think that he can perform at this level. We see him as one of the future stars of Kenyan rugby,” Snook said.

“We’ve watched them in club rugby and brought them into the training squad after trials.

“They have been training really well and deserve the opportunity. They can certainly perform well.”

Explaining on the positional changes of Darwin Mukidza, Biko Adema, Philip Ikambili, who have all been deployed in new different roles, Snook said; “We’ve gone for experience and have seen Darwin play at fly half a few times.

“We like the way he controls things…he’s got a bit more control over what’s going on around him and have decided to play him there with Biko at full back which could easily change if need be.”

“First, Elkeans Musonye is unavailable. Secondly, we like what Philip produces in the squad.

“He is also a very fit player. We need people that are going to play for 80 minutes and he seemed to be the guy that fitted.

He played exceptionally well at seven in training and we’ve decided to give him a run out.”

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