Gold Coast test for 7s team at World Series

Kenya’s Oscar Ouma is tackled by French players during the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament. [Photo: File/Standard]

By Ben Ahenda

Gold Coast, Australia: Kenya open their round one campaign of the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series with a match against Tonga at the 27,400-seater Skilled Park Stadium at the Gold Coast, Australia Saturday morning at 3.52am Kenyan time.

Kenya are in Pool A with series defending champions New Zealand, United States of America and Tonga.

Expectations are high for interim coach Felix Ochieng’ to improve on the performance of his predecessor Mike Friday, who led the Sevens team to a respectable fourth position behind champions New Zealand. England and Fiji in  last season’s competition.

Ochieng has a squad of young stars blended with a few experienced players, and stakes are high that Nakuru RFC flanker Oscar Ouma will lead the onslaught.

Other members of the team are captain Andrew Amonde, Fabian Olando and Philip Wamae, all from Kenya Commercial Bank, Collins Injera and Dan Sikutwa (Mwamba), Patrice Agunda, Felix Ayange, Eden Agero and Sidney Ashioya (Kenya Harlequins), Billy Odhiambo (Nondescripts) and youngster  Billy Odhiambo of Strathmore Leos.

Officials assisting Ochieng in the enormous task are team manager Steve Sewe, physiotherapist George Odhiambo and Michael Owino (Strength and Conditioning coach).

Kenya Rugby Union (KRU)  chairman Mwangi Muthee said the boys are in high spirits although they have a few challenges, which he believes cannot hamper their ambitions.

Kenya face USA in their second match exactly three hours after the Tonga match at 6.58am.

Their last preliminary match will be against the defending champions at 11.40am before the tournament enters the knockout stages.

All the teams arrived  in the Gold Coast city early enough for acclimatisation and are expected to showcase their talent in a sport that is fast growing globally.

In Pool B, the Republic of South Africa are the top seeds while other teams are England, France and Spain.

Fiji, Wales, Canada and Portugal are in Pool C while Pool D has Samoa, Australia, Argentina and Scotland.

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