Homeboyz hooker Philip Ikambili will start at open-side when Kenya Simbas take on Morocco in their opening match of the 2018 Africa Gold Cup on Saturday June 23 in Casablanca.
The 23-man Simbas squad was named on Wednesday June 20 at RFUEA by head coach Ian Snook who will be making his debut in the Africa Gold Cup that is doubling up as 2019 World Cup qualifier.
With Ikambili at open-side, Kabras Sugar's George Nyambua is on the blind-side while skipper Davies Chenge starts at eight. Overall captain Wilson Kopondo is ruled out of the clash due to a recurring lower-back injury.
Kenya Cup top points scorer Darwin Mukidza moves from fullback to fly-half while Nondescript's Biko Adema will start at full back. Impala Saracens captain Samson Onsomu will be the scrum-half as Homeboyz's Mohamed Omolo gets a place on the bench as the only half-back.
Strathmore's Edmund Anya starts on the blind-side
From the squad that beat Uganda two weeks ago in the Elgon Cup first leg, only loose-head Patrick Ouko, tight-head Joseph Odero, locks Andrew Chogo, Oliver Mangeni and centres Leo Seje and Peter Kilonzo remain unchanged.
"We looked at Darwin as the person who can control the game for us, we've seen Biko play at fullback a few times and he's really good in space; he's quick like a sevens player so we thought we could utilize on that area," said Snook.
"The reason that Ikambili is on the flank is Elkeans is unavailable for this game and we like what Philip did in the trials and he's fit, key and we know what we will get."
Hooker Peter Karia is replaced by Kabras Sugar's Coleman Were while Onsomu, Chenge and Onyango retain their slots.
Opening matches of the Africa Gold Cup saw Namibia beat Uganda 55-6 to go top with five points while Zimbabwe and Morocco played a 23-all and earn two points each.
"it was a good result for them(Morocco), playing away from home and to get a draw, they have just come from the second division we believe they are still playing with the confidence they got after winning the division so that will be the first thing we need to do, after 15 minutes make sure they are not playing with that kind of confidence.
The winner of the competition(2018 Africa Gold Cup) will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan as Africa 1, joining reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the repechage winner in Pool B.
1.Patrick Ouko 2.Coleman Were 3.Joseph Odero 4.Oliver Mangeni 5.Andrew Chogo 6.George Nyambua 7.Philip Ikambili 8.Davies Chenge 9.Samson Onsomu 10.Darwin Mukidza 11.Edmund Anya 12.Leo Seje 13.Peter Kilonzo 14.Tony Onyango 15.Biko Adema
16.Peter Karia 17.Moses Amusala 18.Curtis Lilako 19.Malcolm Onsando 20..Eric Kerre 21.Moha Omollo 22.Max Kangeri 23 .Zedden Marrow
Rugby Africa Gold Cup Fixtures
16 June 2018
Zimbabwe 23 Morocco 23
Namibia 55 Uganda 6
23 June 2018
Namibia v Tunisia -Quinton Immelman(SARU)
Morocco v Kenya -Sebastien Minery(FFR)
30 June 2018
Kenya v Zimbabwe -Tual Trainini(FFR)
Morocco v Namibia -Adrien Descottes(FFR)
7 July 2018
Kenya v Uganda -Quinton Immelman(SARU)
Tunisia v Zimbabwe -Jonathan Dufort(FFR)
4 August 2018
Uganda v Tunisia -Cwengile Jadezweni(SARU)
Zimbabwe v Namibia -Egon Seconds(SARU)
11 August 2018
Uganda v Morocco -Rasta Rasivhenge(SARU)
Kenya v Tunisia -Julian Castaignede(FFR)
18 August 2018
Uganda v Zimbabwe -Egon Seconds(SARU)
Namibia v Kenya -Rasta Rasivhenge(SARU)
Tunisia v Morocco -Cedric Marchat(FFR)