Nairobi — Kenya 15's head coach Ian Snook has named five debutants for the team's Africa Gold Cup opener against Morocco on Saturday in Cassablanca with two of them drafted into the starting 15.
Kenya Under-20 International Edmund Anya will start on the wing while Kabras Sugar's Coleman Were starting as hooker while the Homeboyz trio of Mohammed Omollo, Zedden Marrow and Max Kang'eri all start from the bench.
Snook spoke highly of the youngsters especially Anya who he said will bring in his A game against the Moroccans.
"Anya is a really exciting young player. He is a good player with lots of pace and talent. We are excited about what he has to offer. Of course this is a big game for him but we think he can perform at this level. We see him as one of the stars of future Kenyan rugby," the tactician added.
He further added; "Max and Zedden, we have watched them in club rugby and we invited them over. They have been training really well and we think they deserve an opportunity not just for the sake of it but we think they can perform at this level."
The New Zealander will miss the services of a number of experienced players including skipper Wycliffe Kopondo who has failed to recover in time from injury while Isaac Adimo and KCB's Jacob Ojee will miss out as they will be engaged with exams.
Strathmore's Elkeans Musonye was not named in the final squad as he had been out of training for several days due to personal reasons.
Meanwhile, the tactician has made some positional changes in the team which will include skipper of the day Davis Chenge playing at eight while his deputy Darwin Mukidza will start out at fly half, away from his usual wing position.
Philip Ikambili will also switch and will start at openside flank for the Simbas while Biko Adema will start at fullback.
"We have seen Darwin play there and we have really liked how he does it and controls things. He had more control of the ball and the game if he starts there and we think that's the best position for him,"
"We like what Philip produces in the squad. He is also a very fit play. We need people that are going to play for 80 minutes and he seemed to be the guy that fit. He played exceptionally well at seven in training and we've decided to give him a run out."
Meanwhile, the coach excepts a stiff challenge from the Moroccans who started their campaign with a 23-23 draw away to Zimbabwe last weekend and with the result alone, Snook knows it will not be business as usual in Cassablanca.
"Morocco are big, strong and a direct team. They are a very physical side they look quite fit and their pressing is sharp," the coach added.
The Simbas started their season with a 34-16 win over Uganda in the Elgon Cup and Snook hopes the boys can run into the Morocco tie with the same passion and enthusiasm as the team seeks a maiden World Cup slot after missing out by a point in 2015.
Starting 15 v Morocco:
Biko Adema (Nondies), 14. Edmund Anya (Strathmore Leos), 13. Peter Kilonzo (KCB), 12. Leo Seje (Impala Saracens), 11. Tony Onyango (Homeboyz), 10. Darwin Mukidza (KCB), 9. Samson Onsomu (Impala Saracens), 1. Patrick Ouko (Homeboyz), 2. Colman Were (Kabras Sugar), 3. Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), 4. Andrew Chogo (Kabras Sugar), 5.Oliver Mang'eni (KCB), 6. George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), 7. Philip Ikambili (Homeboyz), 8.Davis Chenge (KCB, captain)
Replacements: 16. Peter Karia (KCB), 17. Moses Amusala (KCB), 18. Curtis Lilako (KCB), 19. Malcolm Onsando (Kenya Harlequin), 20. Erick Kerre (Impala Saracens), 21. Mohammed Omollo (Homeboyz), 22.Zeden Marrow (Homeboyz), 23. Max Kang'eri (Homeboyz).
Management: Ian Snook (Head Coach), Murray Roulston, Charles Ngovi, Dominique Habimana (ASSISTANT COACHES), Richard Ochieng' (CONDITIONING COACH), Chris Makachia (PHYSIO), Simiyu Wangila (TEAM MANAGER).