Kenya Simbas have been boosted by the timely return of Shujaa star Collins Injera as they prepare to face South Africa’s Eastern Province Elephants in their last Carling Currie Cup First Division match at RFUEA Grounds today.
Injera’s return brings an end to his three-year absence from the national 15’s side having last played for the Simbas in 2018 during the 2019 Rugby World Cup playoff qualifications.
Head coach Paul Odera has made seven changes to the team that swept aside the Leopards 51-35 in the historic clash in Nairobi last Saturday. This was the first time Kenya was hosting a Currie Cup Division One match.
In the changes, Injera will replace Kabras Sugar’s Derrick Ashiundu as Beldad Ogeta paves way for the inform 2022 Kabeberi Sevens Most Valuable Player and KCB winger Jacob Ojee.
Injera and Ojee will be on the wings with another seasoned campaigner, Darwin Mukidza rounding off the back three.
In the pack, Kenya Cup champion Teddy Akala and Edward Mwaura have been replaced by Brian Waraba and Patrick Ouko while Michael Onsando and Thomas Okeyo will do duties in the second row replacing Emmanuel Silungi and Davis Chenge.
The last change will see captain Dan Sikuta drop out in place of Martin Owila.
John Okoth and Vincent Onyala maintain their midfield partnership with half backs Samuel Asati and Dominic Coulson completing the Simbas starting backline.
Patrick Ouko, Brian Waraba and Ephraim Oduor are in the starting front row as George Nyambua, Owila and Bethuel Anami make up the back row.
With the changes, Odera is now looking forward to a strong finish ahead of their Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s been a fantastic week, obviously with every win, there’s always the confidence that comes into the team and after last week’s performance, the mood in camp has been very buoyant as expected and it has been quite a challenge to point out to the boys that there is still a lot to do,” Odera told KRU media.
“We are reminding the players that good teams produce good performances week in, week out. They need to prove to themselves, the coaching staff and Kenyans that they can put in a good performance for the second consecutive week.”
Elephants assistant coach Zane Bosch said they are using the match as part of their preparations for next week’s semifinals.
“It is a very important match for us as we are playing in the semifinal next Friday, so we are using this match as a preparation towards that fixture. The aim is to come and do as best as we can and build a good platform going forward,” said Bosch.
The match against the Elephants will be Simbas’ last encounter before heading over to France for the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Kenya will kick off their campaign against archrivals Uganda early next month.