Homeboyz centre Oscar Ayodi is set to replace injured Andrew Amonde as Kenya Sevens captain when the final team is named Thursday for the two opening legs of the 2017/2018 World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai and Cape Town.
Amonde, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) flanker and Mwamba’s Billy 'The Kid' Odhiambo will miss out for a total of four months, having undergo surgeries.
Amonde, who is recovering from hernia surgery is out for two months hence missing Dubai and Cape Town while Odhiambo, who had a shoulder surgery is out for four months.
Amonde, who has been out for one month, is recovering from hernia surgery, having sustained the injury during Christie Sevens in September.
He is likely to return for the Sydney and Hamilton legs of the World Rugby Series in Australia and New Zealand in January and February respectively .
Team manager Eric Ogweno disclosed Wednesday that Odhiambo, who had recovered from a shoulder but had the injury aggravated during Prinsloo Sevens in September, will be out for four months.
However, Odhiambo should be back for the Commonwealth Games due April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.
The two players will miss out when the final squad of 12 players is picked for Dubai Sevens due December 1-2 in United Arab Emirates and later Cape Town Sevens planned for December 9-10 in South Africa.
Homeboyz centre Oscar 'Mr Wisdom' Ayodi is expected to takes over the armband, replacing Amonde when the final squad will be named from the pool of 22 players, who have been training for the last three months.
Six players are eying their maiden international capping; Harold Anduvate (Oilers), Herman Humwa (Quins)-Props, Arthur Owira (KCB), Monate Akwei (Nakuru)-hookers, Eric Ombasa (Oilers)-centre, and Sam Muregi (Oilers)-Wing.
Ogweno disclosed that they have high hopes of performing well the coming season, having had good pre-season preparations amidst stability unlike last season where their preparations were punctuated with players’ strike over allowances and contracts.
“The challenge last season mainly was stability which translated to poor conditioning of players and results,” said Ogweno. “I am happy to announce that everything has been sorted out this time around and players are happy.”
Ongweno hinted that 12 players are on contract while they are still in negotiation with the next six players. Six more players will be put in Academy where they will be paid decent training allowances.
Ogweno said the return of strength and conditioning coach Geoffrey Kimani also upped the morale in the team, having also held a camp in Nanyuki.
Ogweno explained that his charges are good to strike in Dubai where they are up against South Africa, who are the World Sevens Series and Dubai Sevens defending champions, Canada and Uganda in Pool “A”.
“The coaches have done their homework against their opponents and we hope for good results. Every team is eying to get to form in Dubai and I think our pool is manageable,” said Ogweno.
The team is handled by former Kenya 15a and Sevens skipper Innocent “Namcos” Simiyu.
Even though they are eying improved performance at the World Rugby Series where they finished 12th last year, Ogweno disclosed that their main target is to reach the medal bracket at Commonwealth Games and later World Cup Sevens due July 20-22 at AT&T Park, San Francisco, USA.
“We have been consistent in the past two World Cups where we reached the semi-finals. We now must garn for a medal at the “Club” Games and World Cup,” said Ogweno adding that player rotation will be key considering the busy season.
KImani is pleased that for the first time in a long time they have had uninterrupted preseason for two months. “We only reached a compromise when we released the players to feature for their clubs at the Sevens Series,” said Kimani, who hope that the good sessions will translate to respectable performance.
KImani said working with a bigger squad is advantageous for ample rotation and praised clubs for keeping their players in good shape. “It has been easy working with these new kids like Anduvate, Muregi and Ombasa,” said Kimani.
Players in training:
Props: Andrew Amonde (KCB), Harold Anduvati (Oilers), Herman Humwa (Quins), Ian Minjire (Impala), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru), Dan Sikuta (Kabras), Willy Ambaka (Manawatu)
Hookers: Arthur Owira (KCB), Frank Wanyama (Quins), Jeff Oluoch (Homeboyz), Monate Akwei (Nakuru), Bush Mwale(Homeboyz).
Scrumhalves: Brian Tanga (Kabras), Collins Injera (Mwamba),
Flyhalves: Eden Agero (Quins),
Centres: Eric Ombasa (Oilers), Oscar Ayodi (Homeboyz), Samuel Oliech (Impala), Billy Odhiambo (Mwamba)
Wing: Dennis Ombachi (Nondies), Nelson Oyoo (Nakuru), Sam Muregi (Oilers)