Kenya Sevens head coach Paul Feeney hopes for an improved performance when his charges take the battle to England at Hamilton Sevens on Saturday at 2.41am at FMG Waikato Stadium, New Zealand.
Feeney is excited to have speedster Collins Injera back into the fold after over a season out while youngster Geoffrey Okwatch will be seeking to impress on his debut in the World Series. Kenya take on japan at 8:08am in their second duel.
Kenya will then tackle continental rivals South Africa in their last Pool “B” match on Sunday at 2:13am.
The World Rugby has effected changes to the format where the winners in each of the four pools will head straight to the semi-finals. The rest will play in classification matches based on rankings from their pool performances.
World Rugby came up with the changes so as to accommodate women’s sevens on real time television coverage.
Injera was part of the senior players who missed the whole of last season after they declined to take the revised contracts.
SECOND TOP TRY SCORER
Injera, who is the second highest try scorer in the World Series with 271 tries, returned for Safari Sevens last October but suffered a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the two openings legs of the series in Dubai and Cape Town.
“I am excited getting Collins back in the mix. Obviously very influential player and even though he has not played for a while we shall rely on him for tries and decision making in critical moments of the game,” said Feeney. “Okwatch is a great young talent, having seen his great potential at Safari Sevens.”
Kenya is currently placed 11th in the Series with 15 points, having finished 13th in Dubai to earn four points. They would settle seventh after reaching the Cup quarterfinals in Cape Town for 11 points.
South Africa are second in the Series with 41 points, having won in Dubai, beating New Zealand 15-0 in the final before settling second at home in Cape Town after New Zealand returned the favour 7-5 in the final.
England are placed fifth with 24 points after they won bronze in Dubai, beating Samoa 19-17 in the play-off for third place. The Britons collected seven points from Cape Town after failing to reach the Cup quarterfinals. They lost 17-12 to United States in the play-off for ninth place.
Kenya has already met South Africa and England this season, losing in both outings. They went down to South Africa and England 17-12 and 12-5 respectively in the pool stage in Dubai. Kenya and South Africa met again in the main Cup quarterfinals in Cape Town where the Blitzebokke reigned 17-5.
Kenya will be meeting Japan for the first time since London Sevens last season where the Japanese won 26-17 in the 13th place play-off semi-finals. Kenya had in the previous leg in Singapore beaten Japan 31-24 at the same stage.
“We are learning pretty fast and have proved that we can be competitive and consistent,” Feeney said. “We tweaked a couple of things after Dubai and it worked in Cape Town. Players are now used to high level performance and who knows where we can go with such improvement.”
Saturday: Kenya v England (2.41am), Kenya v Japan (8.08am).
Sunday: Kenya v South Africa (2.13am)
Pool A: New Zealand, Scotland, United States, Wales
Pool B: South Africa, Kenya, England, Japan
Pool C: France, Ireland, Canada, Spain
Pool D: Fiji, Argentina, Australia, Samoa