Kenya Simbas ready to maul North African side

By Rodgers Eshitemi: Saturday, August 11th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Rugby
Kenya sevens rugby player willy Ambaka in action during the 2015 Safari sevens tournament at Kasarani Stadium. [PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD

Kenya Sevens winger William Ambaka will make his test debut after being included in Simbas starting line up for today's Rugby Africa Gold Cup fixture against Tunisia at the RFUEA grounds.

Apart from the former LOU Rugby, Western Province and Manawatu man, Martin Owilla is the only other change that has been made in the national 15's squad that beat Uganda 38-22 last month.

The experienced duo's inclusion is a big boost for the Simbas as they seek to build on their three match winning streak in the tournament which also serves as the African qualifying round for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Ambaka and Owila have replaced Felix Ayange and George Nyambua respectively.

Head coach Ian Snook was quick to defend inclusion of the duo, saying they have expressed desire to play for the national team.

"Willy spoke to me after the Uganda game and indicated his interest so Roly and I did some research with Manawatu in NZ where he had played previously and the reports were extremely positive," Snook said of Ambaka.

"We watched a bit of footage in the Manawatu colours and decided he would fit in well to this group. Now he has a chance to show how good he can be in 15's and we wish him all the best.”

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The New Zealander was equally pleased with Owilla'e performance in training. "This is a reward for Martin for consistently high levels at training and when coming off the bench in previous games," said Snook.

"The three selectors Charles Ngovi, Dominique Habimana and I were of the same opinion that he deserved this opportunity. It is a strong position in the team as George Nyambua has been playing really well and has been one of our consistently best forwards.

"This is a team of 35, not 15, and we are sorting out a squad who would perform well if we make it to the World Cup." Snook is confident the team will prevail over Tunisia.