Alex Njue @peoplesport11
National rugby team, Simbas have named five uncapped players in the squad that will play in the team’s opening Rugby Africa Gold Cup fixture away to Morocco in Casablanca on Saturday.
Kenya U20 international Edmund Anya starts the match at wing with Kabras Sugar’s Colman Were starting at hooker. The Homeboyz trio of Mohammed Omollo, Zedden Marrow and Max Kang’eri all start from the bench.
Overall, there are four changes to the side that started last month’s 34-16 Elgon Cup away win over Uganda with Were slotting in ahead of Peter Karia who is relegated to the bench while Philip Ikambili, normally deployed as a hooker starts at openside flank taking the place of Elkeans Musonye who does not travel to Morocco. Biko Adema starts at fullback while Edmund Anya takes up the wing.
Jacob Ojee, Martin Owilah, Vincent Mose and Isaac Adimo are unavailable due to academic and work commitments while Oscar Simiyu misses out through injury, his place on the bench taken up by Moses Amusala. Erick Kerre is also recalled to the squad after missing out on the Uganda fixture.
Kenya coach Ian Snook defended his decision to cap the five players and the positional changes with a crucial opener.
“We haven’t just given them the opportunity to play, they worked for it and we think they can perform,” said Snook.
Interesting positional changes will see Simbas vice captain and usual fullback Darwin Mukidza supply the ball as the fly half of the day.
Biko Adema will control the match from the back as the full-back with hooker Philip Ikambili getting a switch to the backrow to start at flank pairing with George Nyambua while the skipper Davis Chenge retains his eighth man position.
East African Breweries Limited (EABL) through its flagship brand Tusker Lager has announced their return to rugby fifteens with a hefty Sh53 million for the Kenya Simbas in their quest for African Gold Cup title-cum-Japan 2019 World Cup qualifiers.
Tusker’ sponsorship is a major boost to the Simbas after their previous sponsor SportPesa pulled out from the rugby arena necessitating Tusker’s return after two years.
Tusker’ Marketing Manager Christine Mwaura disclosed the penned deal will run the team for two years whilst expressing their joy in the partnership and confidence Simbas will make a maiden World Cup appearance.
“We as Tusker Lager we are extremely delighted to once again partner with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU). We have been associated with rugby as a sport in the country for a long time and we want to be part of their journey towards making the world cup cut and beyond,” said Mwaura.