Kenya rolls out strong squad for 2nd test after Hong Kong scare

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-23 23:45:27|Editor: Yang Yi
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By Kimathi Kamau

NAIROBI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenya is not taking any chances against visiting Hong Kong, China in their second World Rugby Test in Nairobi on Saturday after naming a potent squad to face the Dragons on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the home side fielded a much changed squad full of youngsters that rallied from a first half deficit to force a 19-19 draw and South African head coach Jerome Paarwater brought out the top guns for the second encounter.

Having fielded six debutants against The Dragons at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) Grounds in Nairobi on Sunday, Peter Kilonzo, who plays for local champions KCB RFC as a utility back is the only new face for Saturday's clash at the same venue.

Kilonzo will partner Leo Seje in midfield and earned his start ahead of regular outside centre David Ambunya who is sidelined from the squad by a shoulder injury as Kenya prepares for its sixth and last home game of the international Test season.

Experienced Wilson Kopondo is back to captain the side assisted by Darwin Mukidza who has been the star of the team this term.

George Nyambua who led the team out against Hong Kong, China last weekend dropped to the bench with Samson Onsumu who came on as substitute to inspire the comeback promoted by Paarwater to the first 15.

"We expect them to play the way they did on Sunday. We are planning on picking on our intensity and see how it goes from there because there is no much difference in the way they play from how we play," Mukidza told the media during the team naming at RFUEA on Wednesday.

Kenya will travel to Hong Kong in November to play in the Four Nations tournament against Chile, Russia and the hosts in the build up for the qualification campaign for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"We are primarily an amateur playing country and these games are part of an effort to help prepare for the World Cup qualifiers next year. We intend to qualify and go on to play against other top teams," Kenya Rugby Union Chief Executive, Ronald Bukusi stated.

Kenya team manager Wangila Simiyu promised local fans that packed RFUEA last weekend will not return home dispirited admitting The Dragons made them sweat in the first Test.

"This year has been challenging for the team, playing 11 Tests back-to-back and the only way to get forward is to play among the best. Our fans were the 16th player on that pitch, they turned out in large number and we expect them to do so again," Simiyu declared.

"We will not disappoint. The belief they have in the Simbas is what we saw out there last Sunday and that is why the boys have been performing well and we will ensure we give you a good show on Saturday," he added.

After the second Hong Kong Test, Simbas will break for two weeks before reconvening their training camp to prepare for the Four Nations tournament.