Senior players who boycotted the better part of last season over pay are back in training as Kenya Sevens head coach Paul Feeney prepares to pick his side for the Safari Sevens next week.
The 2008/2009 World Rugby Sevens Series top try scorer, Collins Injera, Billy “The Kid” Odhiambo from Mwamba and Kenya Harlequin’s William Ambaka are among the key players who resumed training.
Others are the Homeboyz quartet of Leonard Mugaisi, Augustine Lugonzo, Bush Mwale and Jeff Oluoch who have also been training with the team for the last three weeks.
However, some of the senior players yet to return are Eden Agero from Harlequins, Nakuru’s Oscar Ouma, Dennis Ombachi from Nondescripts, Impala Saracens Samuel Oliech and Brian Tanga of Kabras Sugar.
Former Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde (Kenya Commercial Bank), Dan Sikuta (Kabras Sugar) and Nelson Oyoo (Nakuru) have also been attending the sessions.
Injera, Ambaka and Odhiambo stayed away from the team’s training completely last season, but Amonde, Sikuta and Oyoo returned for the last four legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Agero skippered the team in the Dubai and South Africa legs of the World Series, Ombachi and Oluoch appeared in the opening legs in Dubai and South Africa, but stayed away thereafter.
Mugaisi was locked out on technical issues, Lugonzo, who stayed away owing to job commitment returned for Hong Kong and Singapore where he got injured while Mwale missed Dubai and South Africa but returned for the rest of the events.
Feeney, who is glad to have senior players back in training, noted he will use the Safari Sevens due October 17-20 at the RFUEA to shortlist his side for the Africa qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics programmed from November 9 to 10 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Feeney, who has had a turnout of 26 players in training, said Kenya Sevens Shujaa side for Safari Sevens will be slightly stronger than Kenya Morans.
“I will name the two sides of 24 players at the end of next week and Safari Sevens will be my selection platform for the Olympic qualifiers,“ said Feeney.
At least 16 senior players boycotted training in December last year in protest over reduced salaries, leaving head coach Paul Murunga to embark on his World Seven Series campaign with rookies.
Kenya finished 13th overall with 37 points in the 2018/2019 World Rugby Sevens Series.
It was perhaps Kenya’s worst ever show since the 2010/2011 Series where the country collected 16 points to finish ninth in a season that had eight legs compared to the current 10 legs.