Coach Simiyu: We have to shape up and clean our house


Coach Simiyu: We have to shape up and clean our house
Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde in action during the first training in Kurume City. Photo/Courtesy

In Summary

  • On playing USA and South Africa in the same pool at the Olympics, Simiyu says pressure is on everyone because unlike in the World Rugby Sevens series, Olympics tend to spring one or two surprises
  • COVID-19 continues to be a challenge to the sporting world for the second year running now. Teams are forced to adapt to new norms and measures in training and in camp. It is the same for Shujaa
@MikeOkinyi in Tokyo, Japan

The national sevens rugby coach Ian Simiyu has told his players to shape and focus on the task at hand as the team entered its second day of training in Kurume City Japan, ahead of the Olympic Games.

“I think the first session you will expect guys to be a bit rusty, because of the travelling, the humidity and adjusting to the conditions here and also the sleep quality,” Simiyu reacted to the slow start in training.

But then he was not afraid to lay it bare to his players.

“So there are a lot of housekeeping stuff that we have to do outside the pitch to ensure that we can build on today’s training performance. But we are happy that we are out and we have started our preparation.”

The hot and humid conditions are expected to persist, with a forecast of temperatures up to 40 degrees by the time the Olympics start in Tokyo on July 23.

“For us the events are usually fixed, it is just for us to react to them, so we are quite clear, that’s why we came for an acclimatization camp, so that we can adjust to these conditions.

“For us we like the heat, so it will not be cold, it is just an issue of adjusting to the humidity and the wind. But we are quite happy and ready to go,” the coach added.

The team has a solid ten days to train in Kurume City with no distractions. It might look short, but the technical bench is happy with that duration.

Simiyu says “There is enough time to prepare, for us right now we are focussing on our game plan. Back home we really focused on game profiles but for now we are focussed on our game plans versus South Africa and USA, being day one. We will take it one game at a time, with USA.

Other than the USA and South Africa, a plucky Ireland lies in wait. Are they the underdogs in the group?

“No no no……!!” Says Simiyu, “Ireland is a very good team, even before they came to the core series they made the semi-finals of the world series a couple of times, I think twice before they became a core team, they won the series qualifier, they won the repechage, so they are quiet a good team and they play a very expansive game. It will be interesting to see who comes out of the pool because all the games are quite tough.”

On playing USA and South Africa in the same pool at the Olympics, Simiyu says pressure is on everyone because unlike in the World Rugby Sevens series, Olympics tend to spring one or two surprises.

“At the Olympics all pools are difficult, you don’t expect any easy games. If you look at the last Olympics, japan played some very good rugby, they managed to beat the all blacks and get to the semis, so for us it is a game at a time and it is more important that we hit our standards early and playing our game, showcasing our Kenyan talent and brand of rugby. So, we will be very keen on how we start and how we build on that and hopefully we see who will come out of the pool,” observed the Kenya coach.

COVID-19 continues to be a challenge to the sporting world for the second year running now. Teams are forced to adapt to new norms and measures in training and in camp. It is the same for Shujaa.

“COVID is a factor to all teams, we don’t know even if all the 12 teams will be there on match day. So it is a factor and an issue of us adopting to it, being agile in our plans and adaptive so that we ensure that we have a team when we play our game one and also have a strong team prepared and ready to play. So with covid being a factor it also means that the Olympics can go either way because you don’t know if four teams are ruled out coz of covid then what happens?” Simiyu posed.

He added, “we really have to take the precautions and follow the guidelines from back at home, world rugby and also here in Japan and Kurume City. So for us, adhering to those guidelines and taking precautions will play a key factor in ensuring that our boys play and play at a very good level.”

The first batch of the Kenya Lionesses women rugby team also arrived in Japan and are expected to link up with the rest for a full training programme to begin.

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Story By Mike Okinyi
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