8 February 2013

Uganda: Wokorach On Course to Solve Heathens' Kicking

Just two games into the new season, defending champions MTN Heathens new signing Phillip Wokorach is showing signs that he is the missing piece of the team's kicking puzzle, writes Felix Eupal.

I first saw Wokorach at the 2011 schools rugby tournament. He had been the talk of the tournament and the man to watch if Hana Mixed School was to win the title. Indeed, in the final against Namilyago College, his boot delivered them the title. He had amazing set of skills; from the side stepping, the kicking and his ability to break the lines.

Those who had seen him develop, like Heathens Ronnie Musoke say there was no doubt he would be a great player. He had all the ingredients to make one believe.

Due to that, Hana Mixed School even gave him a full board scholarship and Toyota Buffaloes recruited him despite still being a student. In fact he had to play some games coming from school.

Buffaloes became a deadly force as they gained maximum points from the penalties and conversions whenever Wokorach was on the pitch. He played a pivotal role as they finished fourth for the first time. With Heathens using Buffaloes as their feeder team, they decided to draft Wokorach into their squad.

It's a move that many didn't approve, arguing that it was too soon for the youngster to join such a team and he wouldn't get ample playtime because the full back position he is best at already had Benon Kiiza's name on it {a national team starter with lots of experience}. However many were shocked when Wokorach was given the starting role in the full-back role against Summerkump on match day one.

Some welcomed the move, arguing that it was in such games that the 19-year-old needed to cut his teeth. After 80 minutes, the story was different; Wokorach had 23 points to his name, including walking away with the Man of Match accolade as Heathens won 70-0. Last weekend, at Makerere Impis 'Graveyard' grounds, he produced an even better show; four tries and four conversions and still walked away with the Man of the Match accolade.

"All I can say is that, I give all the glory to God, he is the one making all this possible", was his response when asked what he attributed his wonderful start to the season in a Heathens jersey.

His soft-spoken and shy character make it hard for this reporter to dig much out of him and the other explanation he gives is "hard work and determination".

Brian Tabaruka, Heathens head coach, is just so pleased to have on board: "Philip was chosen on merit after displaying that he is a great player over the years. He is young, we have a lot of hope and I love his motivation".

After stamping his foot on the Under-19 Rugby team, Wokorach has his sights set on bigger goals: "I want to play for the national team, that's why I'm putting a lot of effort to perfect my skills," he says.

However, Tabaruka doesn't want to push him a lot. "He still has a lot to of things to work on and we don't want to put a lot of weight on his shoulders," says Tabaruka.

Heathens won the league title by just a point because of their terrible kicking and even wouldn't have missed out on the Uganda Cup trophy had it not been for last-minute missed conversion. With Wokorach kicking on song, they look poised to win their fifth title in a row.

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