Impressive youngsters to give Treu a selection headache

By francis marangu
Sep 29, 2021
  • Leonard Mugaisi from Homeboyz who has played in the IRB Sevens Circuit and was a top scorer in the national sevens circuit impressed at Safari Sevens. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Bush Mwale almost single handedly won the Plate for Morans. His performance could have impressed the technical bench to be considered for selection. (Photo by Shutterspeed).

Paul Treu, the Kenya Sevens head coach, will have a pool of impressive young players to choose when he announces his final squad for the opening leg of the HSBC World Series in Gold Coast next month.

From Monday, the technical bench will review performances of individual players across the three teams that took part in the 19th afaricom Sevens. The final team will then be named on Wednesday before Thursday's departure to South Africa for a four-day training camp.

Shujaa, Morans and Simba Saba never progressed beyond the main cup quarterfinals but the technical bench was able to field all players some of whom were fasttracked to the wider squad after 18 players opted out.

The focus now shifts to Gold Coast and Treu has a heavy task of coming up with 12 players for the opening leg. “It will be tough in Gold Coast but we hope to come up with a compact team from this tournament. These young players performed beyond our expectations and the aspect of team effort came out well,” he told sportsnewsarena.com.

Leonard Mugaisi who finished the tournament with nine tries was arguably the most outstanding player at the two-days tourney. Treu has also singled out Cyprian Kuto, Davis Chenge, Martin Owila and youngsters Alex Olaba and Michael Wanjala as some of the other players whose performances clearly stood out.

“We have to give credit to the players. Most of them were exceptionally good like Oliver Mang’eni who is a good ball carrier while Mugaisi has the pace.” “We wanted them to be hungry for performance and get ready to play for Kenya Sevens."

Our philosophy

He added: "They played as per our philosophy and we now hope to at least better our previous performance when we never got past the quarters,” he said.

The poor showing by Kenya at Safaricom Sevens is bound to attract criticism from many quarters especially around the dropping of core players who went on strike. Treu says the criticism will be welcome without missing the point.

“You cannot look at just one player but the whole system. We had to bite the bullet and give a chance to young players who have proven their worth. We do not need to be in a comfort zone.”

Injured Humphrey Kayange will be back in February and ready to play at Wellington Sevens while Willy Ambaka is out on a long-term injury that could extend to six months.

Former captain, Sidney Ashioya might not play for the team anytime soon after sitting out of training for one year with work commitments. Lavin Asego is another player whose work commitments might push him out of Treu’s immediate plans for the coming season.

However, the biggest headache for the South African coach is the fact that most of the players are in school which might affect their selection. Treu is already working with Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) to help solve the issue.

“It makes no sense for a player to train all through and fail to play for the team. This is something we must sort out because other players with employment have no travelling restrictions.”

Showed potential

KRU chairman Mwangi Muthee lauded the players for giving their best saying failing to retain the trophy was a non-issue. “That is neither here nor there. The most important thing is what the boys did on the pitch showing their potential against experienced sides.”

Top officials invited from International Rugby Board (IRB) never showed up but Muthee remained hopeful that the dream of joining the World Series will materialize one day. “Even if they don't award us the bid, we will keep on improving and one day Nairobi will host the entire world.”