KENYA CUP : We Present Our Team Of The Season
BY COLLINS NABISWA
The Kenya Cup 2015/2016 season came to an end last Saturday evening with Kabras Sugar RFC stunning hosts Resolution Impala Saracens 22-5 to win their inaugural title after a rain-soaked final played at the Impala Club. The season has had its fair share of drama both on and off pitch. Then there are players who have stood for their clubs.
These are our writer’s pick as the crème de la crème of the just concluded season.
1. Curtis Lilako(KCB RFC) – The KCB RFC captain has been in good form this season, but certainly not the best. He failed to replicate his 2014/15 form that saw him emerge top try scorer, but he’s been an effective scrummager and very mobile with the ball in hand. His leadership and inspirational abilities have had to come in handy when the Lions’ form had dangerously dipped towards the closing stages of the league.
2. George Asin (KCB RFC)- There’s a rugby joke that goes that front rows can’t think and run with ball. Their work starts and ends with scrum and line out. But that’s not the case with this former Impis flyhalf. Asin has pace and a step that many backs can only dream of. His blistering 50-metre dash and steps to the try line against Mean Machine demonstrated how deadly he can be.
3. Hillary Mwanjilwa (Kabras RFC)- Mwanjilwa was only famed for his impressive scrummaging abilities. But it seems under the guidance of Mike Bishop and Anthony Ogot, he has mastered the basics of the game. He was massive against Impala in close battles. A definite Test player.
4. Joseph Wachira (Nondies RFC)- Nondies RFC has had a season to forget. The former local giants have struggled to win matches. Wachira has stood out as one of the second row players not only for the White Shirts but in the whole season. An astute set piece player, he has been the main cog in the famed Nondies forward play.
5. Simon Muniafu (Impala RFC)- Muniafu, the son of former Kenya international Max Muniafu, has been imperious form for the losing finalists. Muniafu is a shrwed line out jumper and a solid tackler. He also has pace. He is the natural successor to the retired Wilson Kopondo at second row.
6. Michael Okombe (Topfry Nakuru RF)- Okombe has stood out for the Rift Valley-based side despite disruptive drama that has characterized their season. An absolute monster on attack and a devasating tackler, Okombe formed an envious backrow trio with Dalmus Chituyi and Edwins Makori.
7. Apenisa Natambua (Kabras RFC)- The towering backrow import from Fiji has been instrumental in the sugar millers’ success this season. Apenisa in full flight is difficult to defend and is also very good in lineouts. He was a handful for Impala RFC players at breakdown.
8. Edwin Machanje (Mwamba RFC)- The only bright spark in a hugely disappointing Mwamba pack. Machanje when fully fit is dangerous on attack. He largely stabilized forwards who at times were overcame by much bigger packs.
9. Edwin Achayo (Kabras RFC)- The diminutive former Kenya Harlequins player is currently the best number 9 in the country. Very deceptive and slippery player, Achayo knows how to direct play and his decision-making is almost faultless. Jerome Paarwater must be happy that he has a fully fit and inspired Achayo for the upmcoming Test series.
10. Lavin Asego (Mwamba RFC)- The ageless flyhalf keeps getting better by the day. Pundits reckon that if Mwamba had three or four players of Lavin’s calibre then they would have been strong title contender, not just play-off chasing. His kicking prowess has helped Kulabu win matches this season.
11. Churchill Ooko (Strathmore Leos)- Churchill is a pocket rocket. You let him gain a metre ahead of you and you’ll find him in the trybox celebrating his try with the XXVII Leos chant. Mitch Ocholla has used Churchill at either outside centre or wing and he has flourished in either positions. He’s a star now and the future.
12. Nick Barasa (Kabras RFC)- Barasa is a powerful runner and a resolute defender with invaluable Test experience. His try against Quins in the Kenya Cup semis was something that coaches can’t teach. He timed his run perfectly to receive a well weighted pass from Achayo and flew past Quins’ defenders to crash over. Another returnee to Test rugby.
13. Fabian Olando (Kabras RFC)- We still don’t understand why Olando has been left out of the provisional Simba squad. The former KCB RFC player operates with German efficiency on both attack and defence. Perhaps his versatility with the boot should persuade the national selectors to have a second look at him.
14. Darwin Mukidza (KCB RFC)- Mukidza has stood up to be counted when Lions form tanked. He’s very good with the kick and a prolific try scorer. KCB coach Curtis Olago has interchangeably used him at either wing or at the fullback. He’s been very effective in both positions. He finished the season as top points scorer with 185 points.
15. Jone Kubu (Kabras RFC)- Another Fijian import that formed the backbone of Kabras’ success this season. Kubu is a deceptive runner and knows when to join in the line on attack scoring vital tries along the way. He defended very well against Impala in the finals and didn’t show any sign of stage fright that Kabras suffered last year at the same stage. National selectors must be wishing that he had a Kenyan passport as he would be assured of Test rugby with the Simbas.
16. Sammy Warui (Nakuru RFC)
17. Eric Kioko (Strathmore Leos)
17. Dennis Karani (Resolution Impala Saracens)
18. Emmanuel Mavala (Homeboyz RFC)
19. Edwins Makori (Nakuru RFC)
20. Geoffrey Ominde (Nakuru RFC)
21. Nato Simiyu (Resolution Impala Saracens)
22. Patrice Agunda (Kenya Harlequins)
23. Kevin Keegan (Kenya Harlequins)