Kenya Sevens will play the opening legs of the 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Series in Dubai and Cape Town without stalwarts that have for years formed Shujaa’s core.
Headlining the absentee list are try machine Collins Injera, loyal former skipper Andrew Amonde, battering ram William Ambaka and speedsters Billy Odhiambo and Nelson Oyoo.
Only four players among 12 warriors who famously won the Singapore leg in 2016, are left out for Coach Paul Murunga’s day of reckoning. Murunga’s debut at the World Rugby Sevens series is something to look forward to, having replaced a high-achieving Innocent Simiyu under controversial circumstances.
The absence of senior team members has heightened anxiety as Murunga is left with a bunch of novices to play in a highly-competitive environment. Eden Agero and Jeffrey Oluoch are the only remnants from the Singapore conquerors but have experienced hands in Dennis Ombachi among the rookies heading to United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
Other notable names with considerable experience in the Sevens circuit are Leonard Mugaisi and Cyprian Kuto both of Homeboyz RFC and Herman Humwa who featured modestly last season
Kenya Rugby Union director Oscar Mango explained that the senior players will have to fight for their place in the team when they return from France where Simbas have tried but lost in their attempt to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in the play-off known as Repechage.
Two players who sparkled during the 2018 National Sevens Circuit, Daniel Taabu and Johnstone Olindi have made the cut as does Brian Wahinya. Wahinya is an academy graduate and formed part of the Shujaa team that lifted the Zimbabwe Falls Trophy in March this year.
Coming back into the Shujaa fold are Samuel Motari, Alvin Otieno, Mugaisi, Kuto and Charles Omondi. The team will kick off the 2018/19 season in Pool B alongside Fiji, Scotland and France in Dubai.
Last season, Shujaa collected 10 points in the opening leg after finishing seventh in Dubai, losing out 19-12 to Australia in the fifth place semis.
Kenya Lionesses, who were crowned the Africa Sevens champions in May after beating Uganda Lady Cranes, have been invited to the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai next weekend and are in Pool A alongside Ireland, Russia and the Glendale Champions New Zealand.