Kabras forward Eugine Sifuna has revealed his main objective of making it to the Kenya Simbas Rugby Africa Cup squad, following his maiden call up by Simbas head coach Paul Odera.
The Kakamega High School alumni said he is keen on maintaining his fine run of form since his breakthrough at the miller’s camp, in making it to the last batch of 30 members scheduled for a training camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa in June.
Sifuna’s career at Kabras has been on the rise since his Kenya Cup debut in 2019, establishing himself as household name at the former Kenya Cup champions.
The 2021 season, suspended in March, has not been different for Sifuna. He has featured in three of four Kabras opening games of the season, including the 29-10 Sisimka Cup win against Kenya Harlequins.
Speaking to The Scrummage, Sifuna revealed he was elated with the news of him making the provisional squad, and remains hopeful of maintaining a steady form in his quest of making it to the last batch of the Simbas squad.
“It feels good being selected to the national team even though it’s a long shot of making it to the last 30 players. I am confident as the experience is not alien to me. It can be compared to my breakthrough season here (at Kabras). I just need to apply the same mentality I applied then and also transfer my form for the club to the national team by listening to the coaches,” he posed.
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“It will not be easy making it to the last lot hence the need to work extra. Some senior players whom I have looked up to and are also in the squad have come in handy, as I always try to learn from them,” he added.
Sifuna is among a total of eight hookers, among them Griffin Musila (KCB) and Kenya U20 international Toby Francombe (unattached), named by head coach Paul Odera.
The squad which is currently undertaking virtual training sessions in adherence to government’s COVID 19 protocols, will later head out into training camps identified by the Kenya Simbas management, with the last pool of 30 players heading to Stellenbosch training camp in June.
Acknowledging the healthy competition for positions in the squad, Sifuna revealed he is confident of the input his coach Mzingaye Nyathi, a former hooker, has instilled in him, since taking ranks at the Kakamega-based side.
“The transition to coach Mzingaye’s tenure has been smooth especially for me since he was a hooker during his play days. In his short stint, I have been able to learn new tactics and skills from scrumming to lineouts that have sharpened me as a player. These for me will be my cutting edge,” he said.
In his interview with World Rugby earlier this week, Kenya Simbas headcoach Paul Odera identified a set of core values for every player in the camp- protection, respect, honesty, perseverance, leadership and Warrior-ship- which he believes will be the focal point in Kenya’s quest of reaching France in 2023.
The Simbas are scheduled to host Senegal and Zambia in July for their Pool B second round of African qualification for Rugby World Cup 2023.