Namcos Simiyu’s return added gloss to Simba’s roar


Kenya Simba XVs team manager, Wangila Simiyu. hoists the Elgon Cup aloft after the team ...
Kenya Simba XVs team manager, Wangila Simiyu. hoists the Elgon Cup aloft after the team crushed Uganda Cranes over the weekend. PHOTO/www.sportpicha.com

One of the most enduring sights as Simba XVs mauled Uganda Cranes last Saturday was the sight of Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu on the run with the Kenyan shirt for the first time since 2011 in what was the perfect throwback to a bygone era.

The crowd favourite of yore played his part as the hosts ran out 48-25 winners to complete their 93-94 annihilation of the old enemy in reclaiming the Elgon Cup.

Simiyu who was revered for his pace during his heyday proved he was not ready to hang his boots as his strength and forceful drive proved too much to handle for the Cranes forwards.

“It feels very exciting representing my country and I’m glad because the hard work I’ve put over the years to come back from an injury paid off and I’m hoping I can overcome the challenge and apply more in the game.

“I am hoping take each game at a time, and with the capability in the squad hard work and team work will work a major role in the country’s success,” the former captain underlined.

In his last competitive outing for the Cheetahs in the Bamburi Rugby Super Series, Simiyu crossed the whitewash twice in a 57-7 victory over Ugandan franchise, Ruwenzori but he suffered serious neck injury from a horror tackle that took him out of the game for three years. It was therefore, fitting to announce his comeback against the Cranes.

Namcos as he is popularly known returned to the rugby scene in 2014 as Impala RFC coach and despite having no play time for the national side his comeback from the debilitating injury saw him crowned the comeback of the year winner at the Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) awards.

Speaking after the Simbas triumph Simiyu believes the changes in Jerome Paarwater’s squad will enhance the country’s rankings and make Kenya a force to reckon with on the rugby scene.

“The game has improved a lot, the guys have become more physical in their approach and that is what I was trying to build on. The general change I’ve noticed in the squad is the depth of the players.

 

“The young players that have been introduced will be pivotal to the squad in other competitions and I’m glad they’ve been given a chance to showcase their talent for they will manage the squad once the old boys retire,” he underscored.

The 33-year-old, who captained Kenya Sevens between 2006 and 2008 and the 15s side in 2008 to 2011, was the architect of the Simbas 2010 Elgon Cup conquest and he is now eyeing the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“It has always been my dream to represent the country in the World Cup but I think I need to play more games to gauge my ability and physicality to get the much needed training and experience before 2019,” he told.

Simbas now shift their focus to a two test series against Hong Kong with the first match scheduled for August 23 with the second on August 27.

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Story By John Njuguna
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