Fijian-born Jona Kubu, legendary speedy winger Collins Injera and the ever-present Darwin Mukidza headline the Kenya rugby fifteens team that will kick-start its preparations ahead of the 2023 World Cup repêchage qualification round.
Coach Paul Odera has named a provisional squad of 38 players, which involves a blend of fast-rising youngsters and the usual faces that will bear the responsibility of leading the country to its first-ever rugby World cup.
Odera has also maintained the majority of players that were in the training group leading to the Africa Cup in Namibia in July.
Youngsters Amon Wamalwa who plies his trade with Homeboyz RFC in the local rugby league, Kenya Harlequin’s Melvin Thairu and KCB’s Geoffrey Okwatch have been included in the squad by the veteran tactician.
However, Kabras sugar prospect Derrick Ashiundu will miss out due to an injury he sustained during the just concluded season, with Ian Njenga also missing out.
Odera has also named experienced faces in his team with the KCB RFC duo of Martin Owillah, Davis Chenge, and Romania-based Malcolm Onsando named to steer the team, to new rugby heights.
Kenya will face Hong Kong, the USA, and Portugal in a round-robin tournament that will see the winner at the end of the tournament qualify for the Rugby World Cup 2023 and join Pool C of the global bonanza alongside Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia.
Simbas missed out on the direct qualification ticket but were offered a lifeline through the Repêchage route following their humiliating loss to Namibia in the Africa Cup final.
In their quest to earn the direct ticket, the Kenya Simba showcased their talent in the quarter-final against rivals Uganda with an impressive 42-7 to book a semi-final date with Algeria.
Kenya Simbas who is currently ranked position 33 globally will kick off their quest for a World Cup ticket against a 19th-placed USA.
In the fixtures, Hong Kong, Kenya, Portugal, and USA will face each other in a round-robin format with the team accruing the highest points securing the last spot at France 2023.
The much-awaited duels will be played over three match days from the sixth to the 18th of November at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
Kenya Simba squad
Edward Mwaura (Menengai Oilers), Melvin Thairu (Kenya Harlequin), Andrew Siminyu (University of Johanesburg), Eugene Sifuna (Kabras Sugar), Teddy Akala (Kabras Sugar), Brian Waraba (Kenya Harlequin), Patrick Ouko (KCB), Ephraim Oduor (Kabras Sugar), Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), Davis Chenge (KCB),Malcolm Onsando (CS Dinamo Bucaresti, Romania),Thomas Okeyo (University of Joahnesburg), Brian Juma (Kabras Sugar), Shem Joseph (Kabras Sugar), George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), Bethuel Anami (Strathmore Leos), Daniel Sikuta (Kabras Sugar), Martin Owilah (KCB), Clinton Odhiambo (Menengai Oilers), Brian Ndirangu (Menengai Oilers)
Samuel Asati (KCB), Brian Wahinya (KCB), Brian Tanga (Kabras Sugar), Jone Kubu (Kabras Sugar), Beldad Ogeta (Menengai Oilers), John Okoth (Menengai Oilers), Timothy Okwemba (Menengai Oilers), Collins Injera (Mwamba), Vincent Onyala (KCB), Bryceson Adaka (Kabras Sugar), Peter Kilonzo (KCB), Jacob Ojee (KCB), Darwin Mukidza (KCB), Geoffrey Ominde (Menengai Oilers), Amon Wamalwa (Homeboyz), Geoffrey Okwach (KCB), Andrew Matoka (Principia College, USA), Dominic Coulson (University of Exeter, England)
Caption: Kenya Simba players during a past international fixture