Speedster Collins Injera seeks to make history as the first Kenyan player to make a third appearance at the Rugby World Cup Sevens which kicks off on Friday at AT&T Park in San Francisco, USA.
Injera, 31, was part of the squads that made it to the 2009 Dubai and 2013 Moscow Rugby World Cup Sevens where the team’s fairy tale ran ended in the semi-finals.
Injera’s tenacity, work rate and valour in the face of bigwigs, are perhaps what Kenya Sevens will need as they seek to surpass their performances in Dubai and Moscow in their fifth consecutive appearance at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“Ready for my 3rd #RWC7s as a player for Kenya,” Injera posted on his Facebook page upon arrival in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Injera and Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent “Namcos” Simiyu are the only surviving members of the 2009 history-making squad that was captained by Sydney Ashioya and coached by Benjamin Ayimba.
The team also had Injera’s elder brother, Humphrey Kayange, who retired from active play last month, Allan Onyango, Victor “Opong” Oduor, Ben Nyambu, Wilson K’Opondo, Lavin Asego, Biko Adema, Gibson Weru and Horace Otieno.
Injera, Kenya’s all-time top try scorer and second overall on the World Series all-time try scorers list, made the 2013 Moscow World Cup squad that was captained by Kayange.
Other players, who made their second appearances at the Moscow World Cup were Otieno, Adema and Asego.
Andrew Amonde, Oscar Ouma, Patrice Agunda, Felix Ayange, William Ambaka, Eden Agero made their maiden show under Briton coach Mike Friday.
This time around, only three players have made it from the 2013 squad; Injera, Ambaka and Amonde, with Simiyu picking Oscar Ayodi as his captain.
Shujaa open their quest against Tonga on Friday, whom they must beat to meet eighth-seeded Scotland in the Round of 16 the same day in the event which has adopted a knockout format this time.
Kenya could meet South Africa in the quarterfinals if they dispose of Tonga and Scotland. South Africa have only reached the Cup final once during the 1997 edition held in Hong Kong, losing to Fiji 24-21 in the final. Fiji went on to win the 2005 event in Hong Kong.
The only other side to win the diadem twice is New Zealand in 2001 at Mar del Plata, Argentina and 2013 Moscow, while England won the inaugural championship in 1993 at Edinburgh, Scotland with Wales bagging it in 2009 Moscow.
Interestingly, it’s Kenya, who halted Fiji’s quest for a hat trick in 2009 with a brutal 26-7 defeat at the quarter-finals. However, Argentina would bring the high-flying Kenyans down 12-0 in the semi-finals.
Wales then silenced the Pumas 19-12 in the final to lift the trophy.
After dismantling favourites France 24-19 in the quarters, England would live it late, beating Kenya 12-5 in the rain-drenched semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium.
New Zealand beat Fiji 17-0 to set up an England date in the final, with the All Blacks cruising to a 33-0 victory.