Kenya Sevens: Now we believe

(IRB.COM) Thursday 7 February 2013
 
 Kenya Sevens: Now we believe
Kenya celebrate victory against New Zealand in the semi final of the Hertz Sevens in Wellington

Kenya Sevens' impressive form on the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series sees them head into this weekend's USA Sevens ranked second in the standings behind New Zealand.

Following a heartbreaking, sudden death Cup final defeat to England at last weekend's Hertz Sevens in Wellington, coach Mike Friday has had time to reflect on their season as the half way stage approaches.

"We didn't expect that [to be second] at the start of the season. We would have been mad if we sat here and even contemplated that was what we had thought," said Friday.

"Our aim was consistency, but now the key is longevity and sustaining that. Realistically a fair reflection of this team would have been top eight, but that is not to say we are over performing - we are just performing well.

"The reality is though if we don't perform well this weekend we won't find ourselves in second we could find ourselves sixth or seventh. The margins are so fine between the top eight, it is a tough brutal part of sport but that is what makes it so exciting and competitive, and that is why it is growing as a sport."

Before losing out to Sam Edgerley's extra time try at the Westpac Stadium, Friday's side won all three of their pool matches on day one, and then defeated South Africa 21-20 and came from 14-0 behind to record victory over New Zealand 19-14 to make their first final since 2009.

Not only is Friday hoping he won't have to wait long until Kenya reach another, the former England coach puts their performance this season down to belief.

Mental toughness

"I am hoping it won't be so long until the next one," added Friday. "I am immensely proud of the boys, although it is still heartbreaking to think about. As I have said all along, though, sport is brutal and it wasn't meant to be.

"Whether we deserved to win or not is a non-point. The reality is, two seconds on the clock to go it didn't quite happen for us, but c'est la vie.

"We had a tough route to the final, we had to beat everybody and we had some mental blocks with the likes of South Africa and New Zealand, which was a huge positive to overcome them the way we did.

"The way we operated testified how we have developed as a Sevens nation. We have the power and the pace to cause any team problems. The mental aspect is starting to come, but the boys.. I don't think they over performed, I think they performed to their potential, so I am hoping we can kick on.

"I think there is also a belief in themselves and each other now. Obviously you don't want to get caught up in the romance and the dreams of winning Cups, because as soon as you do that then your eye is taken off the ball and the process in hand.

"But the belief system is there, we have worked on that. That was another mental block that was hurting us, it hurt us in Dubai and it hurt us in the Gold Coast.

"Confidence and belief is so important, as long as you don't let it turn into arrogance, and these boys are so far level headed, keeping their feet on the ground and recognising it is hard work and attention to detail that can often make the difference."

This weekend Kenya will be tasked with making that difference count in pool matches against Canada, Uruguay and South Africa, with the all-African affair their 30th encounter, and last week's victory being only Kenya's third overall.

They are always a crowd favourite in USA and will have copious support at the Sam Boyd Stadium, so it will be interesting to see where they stand when we pass through the half way stage at the end of the USA Sevens.

#Kenya7s trended worldwide during the Cup final of the Hertz Sevens 2013! To get involved with this weekend's tournament use #USA7s or @irbsevens.

Video: Relive Wellington action

Las Vegas Sevens

Round 4
24-26 Jan 2014

Venue: Sam Boyd Stadium
City: Las Vegas
Capacity: 36,800

 
Pools
Pool A
TeamPlayedPts
RSA39
CAN37
KEN35
WAL33
Pool B
TeamPlayedPts
NZL39
AUS37
FIJ35
SCO33
Pool C
TeamPlayedPts
SAM39
ENG37
POR35
URU33
Pool D
TeamPlayedPts
FRA39
ARG37
USA35
ESP33
more
Photos
  • Cecil Afrika
  • South Africa won the USA Sevens
  • Zack Test, USA