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Simbas regroup for Elgon Cup contest

RUGBY By Clement Wekulo | June 6th 2019
Mwamba RFC's Collins Injera during a past Kenya Cup action. [Photo, Courtesy]

After six months of inactivity, the national 15s rugby team, Simbas resumed training at the RFUEA grounds yesterday in preparation for the first leg of the Elgon Cup against Uganda on June 22.

The Simbas provisional squad comprises 44 players, a huge chunk having been selected from a one-day trials session last weekend.

Newly appointed head coach Paul Odera has rung a lot of changes from the squad that featured under his predecessor Ian Snook.

Odera, who also doubles up as the Kenya Under-20 coach, has introduced an array of youngsters from the Under-20 side, a move he says will be key in instilling a new culture in the team.

“I have worked with most of the young players for a long time and the plan is to instil a new culture as we put in place a strategy to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. I hope to get a perfect blend between the seniors and the young players so that we can maintain our standards,” Odera told Standard Sports.

Among the 12 players who have been elevated from the junior side is KCB duo of Samuel Asati and Geoffrey Okwach who featured prominently for the Kenya Under-20 team that won the 2019 Africa Under-20 title at the KCB Sports Club in April.

Odera has also roped in Kenya Sevens captain Jacob Ojee and his counterpart Vincent Onyala who impressed in his debut season with Shujaa.

“The World Sevens Series is a very big stage and their experience will be good for the team. I know they may be dealing with fatigue but we shall assess them to know if they can be part of the final squad,” Odera said.

With this year’s Africa Gold Cup competition having been cancelled, Odera has decried the unavailability of enough test matches for his charges.

Oscar Sorano, Oliver Mang’eni, Collins Injera, Samson Onsomu, George Nyambua and Elkeans Musonye are some of the established players who have been retained. There is no place in the team for loose forward Davis Chenge and his KCB teammate Darwin Mukidza who is sidelined with an injury.

Simbas will be having four sessions a week as they seek to extend their dominance in the Elgon Cup.

Kisumu’s Mamboleo Showground will for the first time host the first leg before Kenya make the trip to Kampala for the return leg on July 13.

2019 Elgon Cup dates

June 22: Kenya v Uganda - Kisumu

July 13: Uganda v Kenya - Kampala

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