Oliech seeks to shine at IRB Sevens Series debut

Impala utility back out to leave a mark as series heads to Las Vegas, Vancouver.

Tuesday March 1 2016

Samuel Oliech (with the ball) charges past teammates Ian Minjire and Michael Okombe during their training session for Africa Cup Rugby Group A1 match against Namibia on August 5, 2015 at RFUEA grounds. Oliech makes his first appearance for the Kenya Sevens team during Las Vegas IRB Series leg this weekend. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Samuel Oliech (with the ball) charges past teammates Ian Minjire and Michael Okombe during their training session for Africa Cup Rugby Group A1 match against Namibia on August 5, 2015 at RFUEA grounds. Oliech makes his first appearance for the Kenya Sevens team during Las Vegas IRB Series leg on March 12, 2016. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Impala’s Samuel Oliech hopes to leave a memorable mark when he makes his debut for Kenya Sevens in Las Vegas and Vancouver legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The 22-year-old utility back reckons it will be tall order for him as he takes to the big stage but he is ready for the challenge.

Kenya Sevens left on Sunday for this weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens in USA, which will be followed by Vancouver Sevens from March 12 to 13 in Canada.

“I am excited and delighted to get a chance to play for Kenya Sevens. Many people have told me it was long overdue but I say God’s time is the best,” said Oliech, who left with the team on Sunday.

“I believe I have done something unique this time around to catch the eyes of selectors.”

Oliech, who joined Impala four years ago from Nondescripts, believes Kenya Sevens have come of age and should win one of legs in the Series soon.

“We are no longer dark horses in the Series, having reached the Cup final twice and played in the semi-finals of the World Cup Sevens twice,” said Oliech.

Oliech was in the larger Kenyan squad for last year’s African qualifiers for Rio Olympics and 2015/2016 World Sevens Series but failed to make the final team. He played for Kenya 15s in Test matches against Spain and Portugal and Africa Rugby Division 1A Championships.

ASTUTE PLAYER

“Oliech is an astute player but has never got the chance to play. For now we think it is his time and see how he is going to help us. We have also incorporated the young players and have noted they are doing great. This was Oliech’s time to do so,” Ayimba said of the player.

Kenya will face New Zealand, Portugal and Russia in Pool ‘A’ in Las Vegas. Kenya is currently eighth on the Sevens World Series log after four tournaments with 42 points.

Kenya last played New Zealand at the Wellington Sevens Cup quarters where they lost 0-36 as the All Blacks went on to retain Cup title, beating South Africa 24-21 in a pulsating final. Kenya would lose to Argentina 14-35 in Plate semis.

New Zealand would again reign supreme in Sydney, beating Australia 27-24 in the Cup final. Kenya once again lost to Argentina 0-24, this time around in Plate final.

Even though another Cup quarterfinal appearance is almost certain for Ayimba’s charges in the next leg of the Las Vegas Sevens they must trade cautiously against Portugal and Russia, who are placed behind them.

“It is tricky to play teams that are below us because they come hard knowing that we are a scalp that they can claim. Our last outing against New Zealand was not pretty and we look to improve our performance and not lift our foot off the pedal,” said Ayimba.

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