Kenya 7s head coach Damian McGrath named the Shujaa squad for the Rugby Sevens World Cup with sevens great Collins Injera making a return for the first time since Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
McGrath cited experience, adaptability, and nature of the tournament in Cape Town as the main reasons he called back Injera who played for the national 15s side in July during the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“I’ve brought back Collins Injera for two reasons,” said McGrath. “First of all for the experience and leadership, he brings but also his adaptability. He can play across several positions. He’s been training with the team the last month or so and he’s performing very well.”
“It could be said it is a gamble to bring him back but I feel what he brings to the team on and off the field is important to this format. It’s a straight knock-out, it’s do or die so we can’t afford to slip up so we picked the team which we feel balances out and allows the best opportunity given the restrictions we have on selection to do the best job.”
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On whether Injera will be in the team even after the World Cup, McGrath said: “For Injera, it depends on Collins himself. When I first arrived in Kenya we had coffee to catch up because I knew him before just to find out what his feelings about sevens were. All the reports I got from coaches said he was playing great. If he decides to play on then he will have the chance like others.”
Bush, Taabu out as Humwa returns
McGrath however announced two disciplinary cases that will see Mwamba’s Daniel Taabu and Bush Mwale of Homeboyz miss the World Cup. Herman Humwa of Kenya Harlequin returns after missing LA7s also on disciplinary issues.
“For squad harmony, I felt they needed to miss this tournament. We’ve dealt with it and they will return afterward we’ve made a stand on how we’ll operate as a team. So this leaves a hole in the squad because we can only take 12 players to the tournament. Herman Humwa will come in he missed the last tournament through disciplinary issues.”
“The squad sets the rules. It’s the players who set the standards. They know what I expect and what they expect. It would be quite easy for me to say to Daniel (Taabu) and Bush (Mwale) look don’t do it again and I will let you play this time. Rules are the rules if everybody else takes them and someone else goes against there have to be consequences and everybody is accountable. It’s just this tournament.”
Kenya will face Tonga in their Rugby World Cup 7s opener at the Cape Town Stadium at 11.23 am EAT on Friday 9 September 2022. The winner of this clash will play Argentina in the round of 16 at 5.23 pm the same day.
“Tonga is a typical south sea island team,” said McGrath. “They are very physical, lots of flares and it’s a sticky one. You could slip very easily against Tonga so we need to be focused right from start. That then leads to Argentina which is a tough draw.”
“We are confident we can play. We won’t be thinking oh dear this is Argentina we are going there thinking what can we do to beat them? We are going targeting to make the top 8.”
The 24-team men’s competition also begins on day one with a qualification round involving teams seeded from nine to 24. The winners of the qualification round will progress to the round of 16 where they will take on the top eight seeded teams, while the losers will go into the Bowl competition which will decide positions 17 to 24.
“It’s the World Cup, a straight knock-out tournament which brings completely different pressure. There will be teams from outside the top 16 who will be going to make a reputation for themselves such as Germany, Uganda, and Tonga and there will be teams such as ourselves pushing to get into the top 8 so I don’t expect it to be of any lower significance than any World Series event,” concluded McGrath.