Pressure starts to build on Treu

By the punter
Apr 28, 2021
  • Paul Treu is optimistic Kenya will finish on a high in Glasgow and London.

  • Kenya has been drawn in Pool C which also has Fiji, winners of Hong Kong Sevens.

  • Billy Odhiambo has been named in the Kenya Sevens squad for Glasgow Sevens.

Paul Treu, the Kenya Sevens coach and his charges are beginning to feel the pressure requiring them to start showing an upward trend after a lukewarm and disappointing season in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series.

The social media has been abuzz with the team's lacklustre performance and are asking pertinent questions about what could be missing after a healthy injection of money and resources.

Today (Monday), the team departs for Glasgow, Scotland for the eighth leg. Coach Paul Treu named the squad last Friday which had returnees Michael Wanjala, Tony Owuor, Felix Ayange and Philip Wamae.

Their inclusion in the team could have been prompted either by the absence of a few key players or an answer of a prayer by the fans. Treu made four changes to the squad which flopped in Hong Kong.

During the season, Kenya has lost its flair as Treu and his technical team tried to find a balance. “We’re slowly starting to find our feet with the team, we’ve learned a lot of lessons this past season, tried a couple of new things and gave exposure to new players.

It’s only now that we’re starting to settle and going into the last events we would like to finish the season on a high, we would like to take as much confidence out of the next two events to make sure that we lay the foundation to kickstart our campaign next season,” the coach explained.

A big setback

The absence of Amonde and Ouma is a big setback although Treu believes the team could still finish on a high. “It’s going to be tough without our captain Andrew Amonde as well as key players who are out through injury or other commitments but we look forward to the challenge..we honestly believe we can finish the season on a high,” Treu assured.

When Kenya punched below their best in Hong Kong, Mwangi Muthee, the Kenya Rugby Union chairman released a terse statement which targeted the technical bench. He said the coaching panel was fully aware of the deficiencies and were expected to resolve them soonest.

Said Muthee: “The technical bench is lucky; has a fallback plan which is in the existing Kenya youth programme that has players due to take part in the forthcoming Youth Olympics in Beijing, China. We also have plenty of other potential top class players having excellent exposure in the ongoing Vodacom Cup in South Africa.”

On his appointment, Treu promised no quick fix but hinted that by the time the team played in Glasgow and Twickenham, there could be noticeable progress. He has had a chance to freely select and juggle the squad to get the right combinations.

At the same time, Treu gave an insight to why some of the players were left out.

Declined to talk

The preparations for the last two tournaments has been intense but the players are feeling the pressure. When contacted a few players, they declined to talk about the team’s performance referring us to the technical bench who also kept quiet.

But, can confirm that the players feel intimidated and are not free to express themselves because they fear being kicked out. “They do not want to voice their feelings about what is working and what is not. The players are afraid to go against what the technical bench wants,” said a source who is familiar with the team’s trainings.

Asked about the alleged operative word of “either my way or the highway” which seems to explain why the players were not fully expressive, the source admitted it could explain a lot of things.

Muthee hopes that a radical surgery which could not be done in mid-stream of the current season will arrest the situation. “We must appreciate that Paul Treu, the High Performance Director and Head Coach took over this outfit, three rounds into the current series.

He and his assistants are the first to admit, in the aftermath of the last round in Hong Kong, that the team was not playing well, the combinations were not clicking, players were sluggish and that they were not looking hungry.”

It is under this cloud that the team travels to Glasgow and Twickenham where Kenya has been drawn in Pool C with Fiji, Wales and Argentina.

Fiji have won two cups this season in Dubai and Tokyo. Coach Ben Ryan left nothing to chance naming a formidable squad which will be captained by Osea Kolonisau, Pio Tuwai and Samisoni Viriviri who is the current top scorer in the Series.

Replacement of Australia coach

What could overshadow the last two tournaments of the Series is a replacement for Australian head coach Michael O’Connor who steps down at the end of this season. He has made only one change to the squad for Glasgow Sevens.

By yesterday, learned that two high profile coaches, one of them currently on a long term contract with a core team had already submitted his application. Another is a former player and coach.

We can however authoritatively say that one of those being considered is Stephen Larkham who coached Brumbies to the last World Club championships.