Ochieng names Kenya Sevens squad
Mwamba's Daniel Sikuta is set to make his HSBC Sevens World Series debut for Kenya after making Felix Ochieng's squad for round one, the Gold Coast Sevens on 12-13 October.
The 20-year-old former soccer player will continue his remarkable rise since first appearing at the 2011 Kenya Secondary Schools Sevens championships, where he was voted Most Valuable Player and led St. Joseph's Kitale school to a place in the final.
Sikuta has been included alongside fellow youngster Billy Odhiambo, who first appeared last season under former coach Mike Friday.
"These boys are barely 20 and their inclusion in the squad is a mark of the potential and talent in Kenya. They will soon be big names for Kenya,” said KRU Chairman Mwangi Muthee, who was speaking during three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day militant siege on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre.
"We are going out to Gold Coast well aware of our goals," said captain Amdrew Amonde. "We have a chance to prove ourselves. We are going for nothing less than a win for the team and for Kenya."
Kenya have been drawn in Pool A on the Gold Coast and face matches on day one at Skilled Park against the regional qualifiers Tonga, USA and defending Series champions, New Zealand.
While Amonde again captains the side and key players return in Oscar Ouma, Collins Injera, Patrice Agunda, Sidney Ashioya and Biko Adema, the loss of giant wing Willy Ambaka after his move to the Lyon club in France leaves a sizeable hole in the squad.
"Willy is gone, he will not be available for the Series," confirmed Muthee. "He is an example of the talent in this country and this should encourage more players to raise their game. He is a role model and should serve as a motivator for more players to raise their game and eventually earn a living off rugby. We have the talent."
Ochieng stands in as head coach
Following the departure of Friday, who coached the side to fifth in the World Series and the semi finals of the Rugby World Cup Sevens last season, the KRU is yet to name a new full-time head coach.
Friday's assistant last season, former national team player Felix Ochieng, will lead the side to Australia having coached them to victory at the recent Safaricom Sevens in Nairobi.
"Despite recent success, we do realise that the IRB Series will be unforgiving and is a very tough tournament where one has to be very consistent in attack and defense," said Ochieng.
"We have selected an experienced squad and will be looking for the best results starting with game one. We have had some injuries in the wider squad and coming from an extended 2012/13 season the greatest challenge has been to manage fatigue and injury. Having said that, we believe that we have the depth to exploit our strengths and improve in our areas of improvement.
"It is important to note that the series is a journey that starts with one step. The goal and objective is to ensure we are in it for the long run, consistently chalking up points and looking for that elusive cup win.
"We are in a time of transition with regards to the management structure and, as we are aware, this is the time when we have to rally and be patient. The players are committed to representing the nation to the best of its ability," added Ochieng, who concluded by consoling victims of the recent Westage Mall terror attack.
"We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the affected families and assure them and the nation that we will go out there and represent the pride, strength and passion of our beloved people during these trying times."
A confident Muthee added that the search continues for a full-time head coach.
"Kenya still needs a professional coach, we are almost zeroing in on the next Kenyan head coach. By the time we come from Gold Coast, we will have a professional coach and strength and conditioning coach as we look to dominate rugby in the coming years," he said.
Kenya squad for Gold Coast: Andrew Amonde (KCB, captain), Collins Injera (Mwamba, vice captain), Oscar Ouma (Nakuru RFC), Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequin FC), Dan Sikuta (Mwamba), Philip Wamae (KCB), Felix Ayange (Kenya Harlequin FC), Sidney Ashioya (Kenya Harlequin FC), Biko Adema (Nondescript RFC), Fabian Olando (KCB), Billy Odhiambo (Strathmore Leos RFC), Eden Agero (Kenya Harlequin FC)