Shujaa looking towards good performance at Commonwealth Games
- Shujaa have had a tough season at the World Rugby Series
- New head coach Damian McGrath is training the team fully for the first time
- The team finished eighth at the last Commonwealth Games
After a troubled season at the World Rugby Sevens Series, Shujaa are looking towards solace with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month.
Head coach Damian McGrath who was appointed early last month has had his first full training sessions with the team and has now warned the players that no one is guaranteed of a place in the team to Birmingham, and says everyone needs to work hard to firm up a place on the plane to the United Kingdom.
Shujaa have been in residential training at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani over the last two weeks, firming up the loose areas and working much on their fitness with Geoffrey Kimani who has returned to the national team fold.
“The team suffered from lack of preparation before and I know the whole of Kenya just like the players themselves were disappointed with the last two legs of the world series. But we have (Geoffrey) Kimani on board now and we are working to improve things and those six weeks leading up to the Commonwealth Games are really important because it is a huge preparation phase for us,” coach McGrath said.
McGrath has stated that this is the beginning of a new chapter for Kenya sevens, with the Commonwealth Games playing a key role in shaping the team moving forward.
“Commonwealth Games is a springboard into the next 12 months which include the sevens WorldCcup and the World Sevens Series. So it is very important, for us” further observed the coach.
Team is still open
He has the selected players in camp, but the coach insists he is always on the look out for emerging talents especially with the National Sevens Circuit ongoing and has warned that no one has a guaranteed ticket to the Commonwealth Games.
“The team is not a closed book. I will be travelling for the Sevens Circuit to look out for more players. I know there are a lot of great players in Kenya and anyone who puts up their hand and puts up a good performance in the national circuit over the next few weeks and 12 months, we are always looking to have them in the team. It doesn’t mean if you are in the team now you are in forever. They have to prove their worth,” the coach said.
The players understand the task ahead, given the unsatisfactory performance from the last two tournaments.
“We are training hard to medal for the first time at the Commonwealth Games. It is good that we are back in camp, and we have some good time to prepare and hope for the best,” team Captain nelson Oyoo stated.
He added “it has been a learning process from the time we started this journey and now we know where we made mistakes and we are trying to rectify them. We want to make it better going into the Commonwealth Games.”
At the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018, Kenya finished eighth after losing the Seventh Spot play-off to Wales, just after a 33-5 spanking by hosts Australia in the Cup quarters.
This time though, they hope to do better despite struggling to convince in the last few matches.