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Shujaa ready for season opening Hong Kong Sevens

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Shujaa head coach Damian McGrath
  • The team is set to travel to Hong Kong Monday
  • Coach Damian McGrath has named two debutants in the squad
  • Shujaa will face Ireland, Argentina and Canada

The Shujaa are off to Hong Kong for the season opening World Rugby Sevens Series, with head coach Damian McGrath travelling with two debutants in his 13-man squad.

Strathmore’s George “Japolo” Ooro and Dennis Abukuse of Menengai Oilers will drape in the Kenyan jersey for the first time ever in Hong Kong, having impressed for their various clubs during the concluded National Sevens Circuit.

“I have no club bias and I pick according to what I see and come across. These guys have been very impressive and lets hope they will give their best in Hong Kong. I am really pleased with many exciting players that we are adding into the system and the senior guys are now looking over their shoulders and knowing there is competition,” the tactician stated.

Abukuse, speaking after he was named in the squad, said he was excited to be getting into the team for the first time ever.

“I feel so happy and I am thankful for the management for giving me this opportunity. It is through hard work and patience and I believe it always pays. For the past two weeks, I have learnt a lot and I am sure I will do well if given the opportunity in my first ever tournament,” said the Oilers man.

Experienced players retained 

McGrath has retained the experienced core of the team and the only absentee from the team that played at the Rugby World Cup is Sammy Oliech who has been ruled out due to work commitments.

The Kenyan boys have been drawn with Ireland, Argentina and Canada in the same group.

“It is a tough pool. Ireland were third at the World Cup, Argentina is also one of the top teams. It is a difficult start but we will give our best. For all the issues we have we are focused on doing well and ensuring we represent the country well,” said the coach.

His sentiments were shared by skipper Nelson Oyoo. “We have trained well and the focus is now on delivering good performances and raise the flag high.”

Worried with the state of affairs 

Meanwhile, McGrath says he is worried with the state of affairs at the Union, with players yet to sign contracts and the team being without a shirt sponsor for the new campaign.

“For sure, it is tough on these players because they dedicate themselves so much and they sure need better. The equipment is not that top tier and we also have other financial problems. But we understand and we have to work with what we have,” the tactician started.

The team would have benefited a lot from the cancelled Safari Sevens as it would have given the coach a place to test his team, but he will nonetheless soldier on hoping for a good start.

This is the tactician’s first full season in charge having joined towards the end of last term, guiding the team in the last two tournaments as well as the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup.

Shujaa squad for Hong Kong

Nelson Oyoo (captain), Vincent Onyala (Vice Captain), Bush Mwale , Willy Ambaka , Billy Odhiambo, Johnstone Olindi, Daniel Taabu, Edmund Anya, Anthony Omondi, Herman Humwa, Kevin Wekesa, Dennis Abukuse, George Ooro

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