The national rugby sevens team has been boosted with the return of the influential Andrew Amonde who has been out injured since last September after undergoing hernia surgery that saw him miss the opening legs of the 2017/18 HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town.
Amonde has been training with Shujaa as they step up their preparations for the Sydney and Hamilton legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series at the end of the month and first week of February respectively.
Captain Oscar Ayodi will also not be available sooner than the Vegas leg after undergoing surgery. His assistant Oscar Ouma will take charge of the team during their sojourn down under.
“I am very pleased that Amonde is back and fully fit and he will be in contention for a place in the team to yidney and Hamilton. It is some good news for us because definitely of his experience and the kind of dynamism he brings in,” Shujaa Head coach Innocent Simiyu told Capital Sport.
Speaking separately, Amonde says he is delighted to return and has vowed to work his way up to regain 100 percent fitness and be in perfect shape for Sydney and Hamilton.
“Being back with the boys is great. We have quite a tough season ahead and it is great to return early enough,” the experienced Amonde opined.
Collins Injera and Billy Odhiambo have also both returned to light training, but Simiyu says they may not be fully fit to play until the next tour in Vegas and Vancouver.
However, Simiyu sees this as a blessing in disguise as it has given him the opportunity to expose more players while the experienced lot will be back in full fitness in time for the Commonwealth Games in April and by a long shot, the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“It is a huge boost in terms of planning. We have to be on top form for Commonwealth and the World Cup and having a fully fit squad by then is a big plus for us and raises our hopes of getting a medal and we believe we will secure one,” the tactician further commented.
Shujaa have picked up 13 points from a target of 20 after the opening two rounds of the Sevens World Series and Simiyu feels that the team has performed well, only lacking in a few areas especially consistency.
“From our assessment the biggest challenge we had was consistency. In terms of stats we were impressive, but we fell short in a few games which we really should have wrapped. If you dig deeper you will notice that it is the lack of pre-season tournaments from where we would have been able to fine tune,” Simiyu pointed out.
He now shifts his attention to the third round in Sydney on January 26-28 before heading to Hamilton, New Zealand the following weekend on February 3-4. Shujaa have been pooled with Argentina, Wales and France in Sydney.
Simiyu says the target remains to pick at least 10 points per leg and he hopes to compensate for the seven points deficit after the opening two legs of the series. He has urged the team though to ensure consistency and he believes the targets will be met.
-Timothy Olobulu/Capital Sport