The Kenya sevens national rugby team head coach Damian McGrath told Shujaa Pride the team will not be complacent ahead of the Sydney 7s showdown where Kenya kicked off their campaign on a losing note after going down 31-5 to South Africa at the Allianz stadium this Friday afternoon.
Shujaa will later return to wrap up their pool B challenge on Saturday from 2.06pm against the world series leader and Hamilton 7s runners up - New Zealand who clawed Uruguay 45-7 and later seal their playoff fate against Uruguay at 7.27pm.
The top two finishers from pool B will be the first two to confirm their main cup quarterfinal slots where they will brawl the top two from pool C whilst the bottom two will be headed to meet the bottom two from pool C. Pool C will is headlined by USA Eagles who are grouped together with Ireland, Samoa and Spain, the first trio featured in the Hamilton 7s top 8 knockouts.
Kenya is currently positioned 13th on the global standings with 16 points which is a tie with 12th placed Spain who will be the underdogs of group C.
In an interview with People Daily Sports, https://www.pd.co.ke/news/shujaa-oozing-with-confidence-166993/ the tactician said the squad laced with young blood has overcame the off-field issues and have started to improve and despite their losses to some of the big hitters of the global competition, they are still poised to bring a shocker and will not be complacent.
"We have done a good preparation for Sydney where we are much happier with the strong performances and we are still fighting for consistency which is our main objective. We are starting to see a very strong group emerging and again we have a tough draw, South Africa and NewZealand are two of the strongest teams in the world sevens and we are going to give our best and try and bring a shock."
"The strength of our performances against some very good teams helped us on the second day where we beat Canada and Tonga and met Samoa again in the 9th place playoff and again we got a yellow card at a very crucial time when the score was level to ultimately cost us the game."
"Hamilton 7s was a very tough competition, we were in a pool with some big hitters of the world series and we finished the group without winning a game. We lost by a short score to France (21-26), we were level with Fiji until we received a yellow card and they score two tries (5-21), the same situation with Samoa(5h on world standings) we were level at half time and we were arguably the better team but indiscipline in the 2nd half cost us(5-31)."
Commenting on the world series relegation cut that currently holds Spain, Kenya, Canada, Tonga and Japan in that respect, the tactician is confident his charges will crawl out of the danger zone that will have the 15th team automatically axed while positions 12, 13 and 14 will battle the Challenger Series winner for the 12th core slot in alignment with the Olympic model.
"The teams are all fighting at the bottom of the table against relegation like ourselves but we believe we can beat them although they are currently better ranked than us. We have to do our best and we will not be complacent. We can consider the team has started to improve from the off-field issues over the last six months and things have started to turn around and I hope we can kick on from here and use this as a springboard for better performances." Kenya 7s coach Damian McGrath told People Sports from Sydney, Australia.
Kenya will this Friday and Saturday face tough rivals who possess the previous bragging rights owing to collecting wins against Kenya and they all excelled in Hamilton the previous weekend except for Uruguay who have five losses in their last five. Wounded New Zealand who lost the cup final to Argentina in the returning half had not yet tasted a loss before the crucial title determinant but nearly came to losing to Australia and Great Britain in their pool games while S.A was inconsistent having beaten the eventual Hamilton champ Argentina at the group stages but was shocked 21-14 by Ireland in the 5th place semifinal.
Previously the All Blacks hummered Shujaa 31-5 while South Africa relied on their two year winning streak to manage a 27-12 win against McGrath's charges whereas the series debutant - Uruguay shocked Kenya 10-7 and the team will be focused on earning redemption against the three pool rivals.
Last weekend Kenya managed two wins over Canada and Tonga to gain 7 crucial points while their next immediate standings rivals collected less points to give McGrath's side hope of returning home with a better world standings placement and could escape the relegation bracket.
Meanwhile Argentina will be poised to put up a good show in the returning tournament after a two year hiatus owing to the Coronavirus pandemic disruptions faced with pool A rivals where hosts Australia, Great Britain and Canada will be part of the party. Pool D will be contested by France, Fiji, Tonga and Japan.
Sydney 7s pools
Pool A - Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, Canada
Pool B - Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay
Pool C - USA, Ireland, Samoa, Spain
Pool D - France, Fiji, Tonga, Japan
Kenya 7s playing times in Sydney 7s
Kenya 5-31 South Africa
Kenya vs New Zealand - 2.06pm
Kenya vs Uruguay - 7.27pm
All Friday fixtures
Ireland vs Samoa
USA vs Spain
Kenya vs South Africa
New Zealand vs Uruguay
Fiji vs Japan
Australia vs Great Britain
Argentina vs Canada