What you need to know:
- These two sides last met in 2014 Vodacom Cup when the Bulldogs outwitted the Simbas 18-17 in a nail-bitting showdown. Both will enter Saturday’s fixture win-less in this tourney.
- Second-last Simbas suffered losses against Valke 51-14 (April 9), Zimbabwe Goshawks 22-21 (April 23) and Down Touch Griffons 66-33 (April 30).
Kenya Simbas expect a tough outing against Border Bulldogs in Currie Cup First Division on Saturday even as they welcome back loose forward Dan Sikuta and the versatile backline quartet of Brian Tanga, John Okoth, Vincent Onyala and Darwin Mukidza to the starting line-up.
The two sides last met in 2014 Vodacom Cup when the Bulldogs outwitted the Simbas 18-17 in a nail-bitting showdown. Both will enter Saturday’s fixture win-less in this tourney.
Second-last Simbas suffered losses against Valke 51-14 (April 9), Zimbabwe Goshawks 22-21 (April 23) and Down Touch Griffons 66-33 (April 30).
Bottom-of-the-table Bulldogs lost against Griffons 106-7 (April 2), Leopards 19-9 (April 8), Valke 59-5 (April 23) and Eastern Province Elephants 64-7 (April 30).
“It will be a tough game as we travel for 14 hours to East London and then another two hours on the day of the match. It will mean that the Simbas have travelled a total of 46 hours in just a week. It is like somebody travelling from Nairobi to Kisumu six times in a week and then playing a match on the sixth trip. It will be a huge mental and physical test for our boys, but even with all the challenges, it is still excellent preparation for when we meet Uganda in France on July 2. Our boys are going to give it their all,” said coach Paul Odera.
Odera has tweaked the front row, Ephraim Oduor moving to the left side of the scrum with Joseph Odero coming in at tight head. Brian Ndirangu is thrown into the backrow and is tasked with stealing balls at the breakdown.
Utility back Jone Kubu is fit again and will start from the bench.
Eugene Sifuna and Chrispine Shitundo linked up with the squad this week.
“We have named the strongest available squad for this match,” said Odera.
“Sadly, we have lost more players through injury. Elkeans Musonye, Shem Angugo and Coleman Were are all injured after last week’s brutal match against Griffons,” he added.
“Border are a big physical team and they are probably targeting this as one of the games they can win. So they will play it like a final.”
“We have done our homework on their key players and what we expect from them from all the three set pieces. We have looked at what they try and do in different parts of the field when they have the ball,” added Odera, a former Kenya international.
“We need to keep the ball a lot longer, cut down on unforced errors and put them under pressure both in attack and defence.”
Simbas match day 23:
15. Darwin Mukidza (Vice Captain), 14. Timothy Okwemba, 13. Vincent Onyala, 12. John Okoth, 11. Derrick Ashihundu, 10. Geoffrey Ominde, 9. Brian Tanga, 1. Ephraim Oduor, 2. Brian Waraba, 3. Joseph Odera, 4. Brian Juma, 5. Thomas Okeyo, 6. Daniel Sikuta (Captain), 7. Brian Ndirangu, 8. Bethuel Anami; Replacements 16. Eugene Sifuna, 17. Edward Mwaura, 18. Patrick Ouko, 19. Clinton Odhiambo, 20. Brian Amaitsa, 21. Brian Wahinya, 22. Jone Kubu, 23. Peter Kilonzo