Hong Kong Sevens : A Look at Kenya and its group D opponents

Hong Kong Sevens : A Look at Kenya and its group D opponents

With the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Hong Kong Sevens set to kick off on Friday 25th March 2011,we take a look at Pool D, where the Kenyan national sevens team has been pooled alongside Fiji, Russia and Malaysia.

 With the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Hong Kong Sevens set to kick off on Friday 25th March 2011,we take a look at Pool D, where the Kenyan national sevens team has been pooled alongside Fiji, Russia and Malaysia.

This information is courtesy of the International Rugby Board's sevens rugby website.

Fiji

Last season in HK: Cup semi finalists
Last season in World Series: 4th
Position this season: 3rd=
Best result this season: Cup runners-up (USA)
Result at last event: Runners-up (Las Vegas 2011)
Top try-scorer this season: Seremaia Burotu (20)
Top try-scorer all time: Nasoni Roko (123)
Last 30 World Series matches: W18, D2, L10

Simply gobsmacking on their day and at their best totally unplayable. Tied for third with Samoa so far this season and that just about sums up their overall performance: good but no cigar. They are getting better, though, as proven by their first Cup final appearance last time out in Las Vegas and their squad selection here shows firstly how desperate they are for a first title since Wellington last year and secondly how much the 'bigger' players go out of their way to muscle their way into the reckoning for Hong Kong. In come Setefano Cakau, Osea Kolinisau and Dale Tonawai to back up the simply outstanding Seremaia Burotu and Emosi Vucago. Will it all click into place for them and their honest coach Iliesa Tanivula? If it does they could well be on the winner's podium.

Kenya

Last season in HK: Plate semi finalists
Last season in World Series: 8th
Position this season: 9th
Best result this season: Plate runners-up (USA)
Result at last event: Plate runners-up (Las Vegas 2011)
Top try-scorer this season: Humphrey Kayange (12)
Top try-scorer all time: Collins Injera (106)
Last 30 World Series matches: W12, L18

What a difference Collins Injera makes. Absent for the first two tournaments in Dubai and South Africa, the speedster returned for Wellington and Las Vegas and scorched over for 11 tries, one fewer than his brother and captain Humphrey Kayange, their leading scorer for the whole season. They miss the bulk of Victor Oduor and the prowess of Dennis Mwanja when they're not available up front but in the backs they're lightening fast with Injera the master opportunist. Should be a good tussle and a real contrast of styles against the Russians in this pool.

Russia

Last season in HK: Shield finalists
Last season in World Series: No Series points
Position this season: No Series points
Best result this season: Bowl runners-up (South Africa)
Result at last event: Bowl runners-up (George 2011)
Top try-scorer this season: Vladimir Ostroushko (8)
Top try-scorer all time: Vladimir Ostroushko (34)
Last 30 World Series matches: W10, L20

Both in the 15-man game and Sevens the Russians are arriving, and fast. Qualified last year in 15s for a first ever Rugby World Cup and the trickle effect is already happening. Nowhere, perhaps, might Sevens' new Olympic status have more impact than Russia, where rugby was quickly drafted into the school sporting curriculum. As the hosts of the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens they have a real incentive to improve too and with players like Vasily Artemyev and Vladimir Ostroushko they will do quickly. Artemyev is a product of Irish rugby, having gone to school in Dublin before playing at Leinster Academy, where he roomed with British and Irish Lion, Luke Fitzgerald. He's recently been snapped up by Northampton Saints in England's top flight, and they can spot a good outside back when they see one (Chris Ashton, Ben Foden...)

Malaysia

Last season in HK: N/A
Last season in World Series: No Series points
Position this season: No Series points
Best result this season: N/A
Result at last event: Malaysia lost 17-21 to USA in the 2004 Singapore Shield semi. They've only won twice in 44 outings, versus Thailand (24-21) in Malaysia 2002 and Korea (21-12) in Singapore 2002.
Top try-scorer this season: N/A
Top try-scorer all time: Nor Hazmin Chamili (6)
Last 30 World Series matches: W2, L28

Little experience on the Sevens World Series but increasingly given a chance to develop by Asia's own Sevens Series, where they compete. Outclassed by the bigger Asian rugby powers like Japan, Hong Kong and Korea but finished a very creditable fifth place at the Asian Games in November with wins on the final day against both Sri Lanka and India.