Fijian Jone Kubu has been included in the Kenya Simbas 15s rugby squad for the upcoming World Cup preps after living in the country for more than six years now.
Kubu, who plays for 2016 Kenya Cup champions Kabras Sugar, is among seven fly-halves named by Simbas head coach Paul Odera in the 102-man squad that will kick off virtual training as Kenya targets a place in the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be held in France.
“I chose Kenya because I trust the process and the quality we have. I have lived here for six years now and I am eligible to represent Kenya,” Kubu told Raga House.
Subject to World Rugby Regulation 8.2, a player may only play for the senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team, the next senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team and the senior National Representative Sevens Team of the Union of the country with which the Player has a genuine, close, credible and established national link in which: he was born, or (b) one parent or grandparent was born; or (c) he has completed sixty¹ consecutive months of Residence immediately preceding the time of playing; or (d) he has completed ten years of cumulative Residence preceding the time of playing.
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Kubu arrived in Kenya in 2014 as part of Samurai Waimanu Naitasiri RC for the Safari 7s
“I came to Kenya in 2014 for Safari 7s. After that, we made an arrangement with Kabras Sugar so that we can come here. We’ve been here since then,” Kubu told Raga House in 2020.
Kubu, adored by many rugby fans in Kenya, helped Kabras Sugar win their first-ever Kenya Cup title in 2016 putting a man of the match performance against Impala Saracens at Impala Club.
He scored more than 12 tries and managed 135 points during the 2015/16 season, and walked away with the Man of the Match accolade during the Kenya Cup final.
He has since impressed Odera who seems to have him in mind as those to lead Kenya to the global showpiece in 2023.
“I have a dream to represent Kenya but the first step to qualify for World Cup. It will be hard to make the Kenya squad. It will take a lot of hard work and I am ready for the journey.”
Odera told Raga House he's looking for players who bring different dimension into the squad. "We need fly-halves who are different. I don't want to change players; I want players to bring something special. If you look at Dominic Coulson, he's very structured in how he builds attack. Kubu brings flare, he brings a new dimension and his quality.
"Kubu plays different positions not just 15. Once he starts at 15 we can use him at 10 when we are attacking. With all these fly-halves we now have a triple threat. That's our plan."
"We are still waiting for clearance from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Sports so that we can resume physical training. We want to give the government our tick-boxes. We want to offer a bio-secure bubble because we are eight weeks away from qualifiers and I know sides like Zambia have been training. We can't take any team for granted even if we are above them in rankings."
See Also: How Kakamega became Kubu's Fiji
Kubu, who plays as a fullback/winger at Kabras Sugar, is facing competition at 10 from Mwamba’s Anthony Omondi and Charles Kuka, Owain Ashley Llyod of Cardiff University, Abdultwain Wesonga of Menengai Oilers, KCB’s Stephen Osumba and Dominic Coulson of Exeter University.
“There are a lot of quality players in Kenya and for you to make the squad you must be really good. I chose Kenya over Fiji because it’s a good team for me and we can go places."
“I think we can qualify for the World Cup; with the players we have can go to France in 2023 if we work smart,” added Kubu.
Kubu was born in Navatuvula Village in the tikina of Vuna, Naitasiri in Fiji. Coach Sailosi Naiteqe Sr, who aims to unearth some new talents from the village, brought Fiji and three other(hooker Cava Racigi, fly-half Navuso Jone and flanker Apenisa Natabua) to Kenya.
“I travel to Fiji every year but I haven’t gone since 2019 because of the pandemic. I hope to go there and visit my mother when everything has settled. She is my inspiration and she keeps me moving every day.”
Life hasn't been easy for Kubu as he almost getting his left leg amputated when he was one year old.
“It’s a long time ago but I am forever grateful for being able to play rugby. This is now my time to chase the dream.”
According to kru.co.ke, the initial Kenya Simbas squad will undergo a series of assessment tests after which the team will be narrowed down to 50 players and later, a final list of 30 players who will compete in this year’s Rugby Africa Cup.
There will be a Stellenbosch camp in June followed by the RA cup in July 2021 where the Simbas will face Senegal and Zambia here in Kenya.