- Simiyu cut the image of a man at ease with his challenge and one who has the respect of his charges ahead of what will be a tough and long season.
- Last season, Simiyu fell short of his 10 points per leg goal and this season he has a different outlook in as far as goal-setting.
Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu gets a second bite of the cherry and a chance to steady the ship after a torrid first year in charge.
Speaking at the team’s pre-season training session at the RFUEA grounds this week, Simiyu cut the image of a man at ease with his challenge and one who has the respect of his charges ahead of what will be a tough and long season.
“It was not all doom and gloom last season. We exposed several young players. I was happy with our expansive game. Into the new season, it is time for the foundation we laid last season to now flourish,” said Simiyu.
Pundits have questioned whether he is his own man or a merely lackey of the Kenya Rugby Union.
Simiyu may not have the large-than-life personalities of his predecessors Benjamin Ayimba or Mike Friday, but in his unassuming, professorial nature there is steel that shines through.
“Biggest thing I want to do is to improve the Kenyan rugby player. When a player is dropped from Shujaa, he drops in life. If we can improve the player such that they can improve their life for good and also when they stop playing they still contribute to the Kenya Sevens eco-system then I shall have achieved something."
The national sevens rugby team last season struggled in the IRB Series, blowing hot and cold before finishing 12th with a mere 63 points.
Many questioned the ability of Simiyu who despite being a top rugby player in his day had little experience as a coach.
“There will always be doubting Thomases. It is life. For us, key is to improve the player, play better, develop the game and off course win. Yes, we understand the expectations of Kenyans who want us to win everything.”
In his first season, coach Simuyu despite a target of 10 points a leg, only led Shujaa to two main cup quarterfinals in the 10 legs of the series. He cited a poor pre-season for the team’s dismal run. This season he has had the luxury of starting early and not spend most of the season firefighting. With 12 players in camp, ‘Namcos’ asserts that training has been good and that he has had 100 percent attendance.
“Quite excited. Wish we keep the momentum and energy that we have started with. I have a feeling that things will be very good this season.”