Kenya Simbas players during a past Victoria Cup clash. Photo Courtesy/Denis Acre-Half.

Paul Odera lays strategy to take Kenya Simbas to 2023 World Cup


Kenya Simbas Head Coach Paul Odera believes the side is not as big as Africa Cup Champions Namibia and cannot compete financially with the side but intends to build a strong culture that will be key in leading his side to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The Simbas have failed to qualify for the World Cup with the 2015 chase ending with a loss to Zimbabwe while the 2018 campaign saw the side fall 53-28 to Namibia and lost all the Repechage matches in France.

Odera who took over the side in 2019 and is expected to lead them to France 2023 says a firm culture in the team will be vital.

“It’s about the culture. We are not going to compete financially; we won’t even be as big as Namibians. The first step has been setting up a very firm culture and a value system within the Simbas.” Odera told CGTN Africa’s weekly Sports Scene show.

“It’s got to be something that is unshakable and strong that the boys believe it, and we all believe it as management.”

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With just a year to the qualifiers, Odera wants to bring together the local talents and the foreign-based players to form a strong squad for the World Cup push.

“We need to try and use data to select the best Kenyan team of rugby players across the world. Whether we have players in Australia, South Africa, England, and even here in Kenya, it’s now to set up a database and a system of analysis to determine which players can run on the field to represent Kenya,” he added.

“I want to blend the type players in the country, we have the settlers community who start off rugby when they are young and we have those who start off late but they are strong mentally.  If we can create synergy within such differences we can be strong.”

Having taken Kenya Under 20 side to the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Brazil in 2019, Odera reveals that he picked vital lessons that he wishes to implement while with the  Simbas.

“In the JWRT, I learnt that high-performance rugby is about meticulous planning and attention to details. I was fortunate to be in the same hotel as Japan and saw how they plan. So the sum total of a high-performance team is getting the minute details correctly.”

Odera holds a World Rugby Level 3 Coaching Certificate and is also a World Rugby Coach Educator. He is also a teacher at a Nairobi-based private institution, Peponi House Preparatory School.

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