Four Kenya Sevens players have been drafted to beef up the national 15s side ahead of the Rugby World Cup qualifying Repechage tournament due November 11-23 in Marseille, France.
Former Kenya Seven skipper Andrew Amonde (Kenya Commercial Bank) has been slotted to the front row, while Samuel Oliech (Impala Saracens), Dennis Ombachi ( Nondies) and Nelson Oyoo (Nakuru) will bolster the Kenya Simbas’ backline.
The inclusion of the four, who will join their colleague William Ambaka in the Simbas camp, brings to 37 the players preparing for the Repechage.
Deputy coach Dominique Habimana said that the move to include the sevens players is to try out alternatives that can be the game changer at half back and front row in Marseille.
"We wanted more covers in all positions after the Rugby Africa Gold Cup where we failed to qualify from," said Habimana.
Head coach Ian Snook had on Saturday named a squad of 33 players among them four debutantes including Mombasa Rugby Club’s fly-half Elvis Namusasi for Repechage.
Namusasi, who is a former Western Bulls player currently studying Journalism and Mass Communication at Technical University of Mombasa, will partner with seasoned Darwin Mukidza at fly-half.
Joining Namusasi for their maiden international are props Thomas Okidia (Homeboyz) and Ephrahim Oduor (Kabras Sugar.
Repechage has also see the return of influential former skipper and lock Wilson K’Opondo of Kenya Harlequins, who missed the entire Gold Cup campaign.
The team started training on Monday this week in Nairobi.
At the same time, Kenya Rugby Union is working on plans to see the Simbas engage in a series of build-up fixtures in the run up to Repechage.
KRU Director of Rugby Thomas Odundo disclosed that they are looking at fixtures against South African opposition from either Western Province or Blue Bulls.
Odundo said they have also requested World Rugby if they can bring Namibia to Nairobi for a series of matches.
“We also hope to head to France early for the Repechage and play a match against either Spain or Portugal,” said Odundo.
The Marseille Repechage is the Simbas' final stab at qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after missing out on the African berth, when they finished second to eventual qualifiers Namibia during the Gold Cup which also doubled up as the continental qualifiers.
The Simbas will launch their quest against Canada on November 11, before meeting Hong Kong on November 17.
The Simbas will wrap up their campaign against Germany on November 23.
The winner of the round robin competition will secure a ticket to compete against New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia in Pool B of next year’s tournament in Japan.