Snook Turns To Shujaa Star Ambaka Power In Tunisia Test
Simbas head coach makes only two changes in the hunt for third successive Gold Cup win
- Ambaka will make his test debut after making the Simbas starting 15 against Tunisia at the RFUEA Ground in Nairobi on Saturday
- The former LOU Rugby, Western Province and Manawatu man who is a regular fixture for Shujaa and a household name in the HSBC World Sevens Series
- Head coach, Ian Snook, drafting Ambaka to take the place of Felix Ayange who is rested
- Martin Owilah starts ahead of George Nyambua at blindside as reward for his strong appearances as a substitute
NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenya 7s star Willy Ambaka will make his Test debut after making the Simbas starting 15 for their 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup tie against Tunisia at the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi on Saturday.
The former LOU Rugby, Western Province and Manawatu man who is a regular fixture for Shujaa and a household name in the HSBC World Sevens Series will start on the wing as Kenya targets a third successive victory on the trot to keep in touch with pool leaders Namibia.
Simbas are aiming at making the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan via the continental competition with head coach, Ian Snook, drafting Ambaka to take the place of Felix Ayange who is rested for the visit of Tunisia.
“Willy spoke to me after the Uganda game and indicated his interest so Roly and I did some research with Manawatu in NZ where he had played previously and the reports were extremely positive.
“We watched a bit of footage in the Manawatu colours and decided he would fit in well to this group. Now he has a chance to show how good he can be in XV's and we wish him all the best,” the New Zealand boss said on the inclusion of Ambaka.
The Shujaa lynchpin one of two changes to the side that started the 38-22 home win over Uganda at the same venue on July 7 with Martin Owilah starting ahead of George Nyambua at blindside as reward for his strong appearances as a substitute.
"This is a reward for Martin for consistently high levels at training and when coming off the bench. Selectors were of the opinion he deserved his opportunity.
"It is a strong position in the team as George has been playing really well and has been one of our consistently best forwards,” Snook added.
Charles Ngovi and Dominique Habibana are the other Simba selectors working with the New Zealand boss at the national team set up.
Snook maintained the door was not shut on any player on the fringes of the first 15 as he aims to lead Kenya to a maiden World Cup.
"However, this is a team of 35, not 15, and we are still sorting out a squad who would be capable of performing well at the World Cup should the team make it that far," the head coach stressed.
He is also wary of the threat posed by Tunisia on Saturday, urging his side to approach the encounter with caution while press home their advantage.
"I know they beat Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe ran us close. I have seen their other results and watched their games so I know it will be a physical game that will take 100 per cent effort from the boys.
"Tunisia have been in town all week so will have had plenty of time to fine-tune things and be well prepared,” the New Zealander noted.
Snook however, praised his team's personality over the length of the Gold Cup in his first assignment with the side since taking over in February.
"In a short time and with no warm-up games at any stage, the character of the players has shone through with three hard earned wins from three games.
"In each game we have been under pressure at various times and on each occasion the team have made good decisions and performed well at the vital times,” the Simbas boss hailed.
"Many players have done really well and there is a strong squad coming together. Lots of hard work has been paying off," Snook underscored.
Simbas squad to face Tunisia
15. Vincent Mose (Resolution Impala Saracens), 14. William Ambaka (Kenya Harlequin)*, 13. Peter Kilonzo (KCB), 12. Darwin Mukidza (KCB), 11. Jacob Ojee (KCB), 10. Isaac Adimo (Kenya Harlequin), 9. Samson Onsomu (Resolution Impala Saracens), 1. Patrick Ouko (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), 2. Colman Were (Kabras Sugar), 3. Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), 4. Andrew Chogo (Kabras Sugar), 5. Oliver Mang'eni (KCB), 6. Martin Owilah (KCB), 7. Elkeans Musonye (Strathmore Leos), 8. Davis Chenge (KCB/Captain) REPLACEMENTS 16. Peter Karia (KCB), 17. Moses Amusala (KCB), 18. Hillary Mwanjilwa (Kabras Sugar), 19.Malcolm Onsando (Kenya Harlequin), 20. George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), 21. Mohamed Omollo, 22. Maxwell Kang'eri (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), 23. Tony Onyango (Menengai Cream Homeboyz)
-Report by www.kru.co.ke