Limping Kenya Shujaas eye USA 7s redemption in Las Vegas

Billy Odhiambo of Kenya takes on the Russia defence at the HSBC Sydney Sevens, 05 February, 2017, ...
Billy Odhiambo of Kenya takes on the Russia defence at the HSBC Sydney Sevens, 05 February, 2017, round four of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Photo credit: Michael Lee @ KLC fotos for World Rugby

The Kenya 7s team made a low key return home on Tuesday after an underwhelming tour in the third and fourth legs of the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Wellington and Sydney.

Addressing media at a Nairobi hotel, Captain Andrew Amonde conceded the outing was tough as he shifted focus on the fifth leg of the competition, the USA 7s in Las Vegas.

“Let me say it has been a big challenge in the two tours especially to the players. We struggled in the Wellington Main Cup competition and it got worse in Sydney than what we expected. It’s a big call for us to go back to the drawing board and see what did not go well.

“We have to get back to the drawing board and correct the mistakes that we did because we know what we have to work on to get the performances we desire. We have New Zealand, Argentina and Russia in Las Vegas and that is a balanced pool to me.

“It just needs a lot of hard work and focus if we have to get positive results because the teams in the pool have already beaten us this season,” Amonde told.

Kenya won the Challenge Trophy in Wellington before finishing down the order in disappointing 14th in Sydney after losing the final placement match to Canada.

Coach Innocent Simiyu  singled out poor ball handling skills as the main cause for the poor results, blaming both his defense and attack for losing concentration.

“We had a lot of errors, an average of five in attack, and four to six in defense which is spoiling our game and we were caught out in those areas playing some critical games.

“There are those critical moments we let down our guard and lost, basically handling the ball and defensive errors especially on the breakdown cost us. We are talking of 10 errors per game and it is hard to win with such errors in your team,” the former Kenya 7s captain who was appointed to lead the team for the first time this season rued.

“They are painful and costing us games. If you look at our games against England and South Africa, we were three minutes away from beating them but we lost in the final seconds because of concentration lapses,”  the crestfallen Simiyu added.

The former international revealed he will ring some changes in the squad for the Las Vegas and Vancouver 7s tour next month where he will seek to blend youth and experience as he seeks to build his own formidable squad.

Kenya has garnered 27 points from four legs, 13 less than the 40 they managed at the same stage last term under his predecessor, Benjamin Ayimba.

Kenya are in Pool C of the USA 7s in Las Vegas while Wellington and Sydney champions, South Africa were drawn with Wales, Canada and France in Pool A.

Losing Australia 7s finalists, England will battle USA, Samoa and Chile in Pool B with Australia, Fiji, Japan and Scotland facing each other in Pool D.

Simiyu will be targeting 10 points from Las Vegas in line with his stated mission for each leg since taking over.

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