Shujaa keen to defend title as Safari Sevens proper kicks-off at Nyayo Stadium for two days
The Kenya Simbas national rugby 15 side is geared for a bruising encounter against Currie Cup champions select team at the Loftus Versfeld grounds in Pretoria, South Africa, at 2pm local time on Saturday.
Already, Simbas coach Paul Odera has psyched up his players against the hosts who have named a 23-man squad for the clash.
Odera is glad that his charges have fully acclimatized after going through three training sessions since their arrival in South Africa last Wednesday.
“So far so good. The players have adapted to the weather here pretty fast and with what I have seen in training , the team is poised to do well,” said Odera.Kenya is the sole East African side in the quadrangular rugby 15s competition and will be overly keen to make a good representation of the region.
Simba’s squad is a blend of youth and experience with Odera incorporating a few Shujaa players majorly due to the rigors of the competition and especially the opening match against Currie Cup champions select outfit.
“ I think it was not ill-advised to intertwine the Simbas squad with a few experienced Shujaa players. HSBC sevens competition is at a higher level than our local competition. We have Ojee (Jacob), Onyala (Vincent), Tanga (Brian) and team skipper Sikuta (Dan). Of course, we are under no illusions what to expect hence this development.” Said Odera.
Kenyan rugby fans can rest easy in that The match to be broadcasted live on Supersport from Pretoria.
In the meantime, Odera was also forced to make four changes to the travelling squad after Kabras quartet of Joseph Odero, Ephraim Oduor, George Nyambua and Brian Juma got a visa hitch due to anomalies in previous applications.
Their replacements were youthful Strathmore Leos back rower Bethuel Anami, Harlequins front rower Melvin Thairu, Impala Saracens front rower Nesta Okotch and Nondescripts back rower Brian Amaitsa.
Simbas have featured in two international fixtures this year which helped Odera assess the weak areas for rectification.
The team first recorded a 35-17 win against Zambia before succumbing to a19-20 loss to Senegal in the Rugby Africa cup-cum-2023 France Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
After the assignment in South Africa, Simbas will then return to action eight days for the Quadrangular semi-final clash against Africa Champions Namibia.
This will be Simbas’ first encounter with Namibia since the 2018 Africa Gold Cup final.