Nairobi — Veteran Shujaa star Collins Injera has urged his teammates to give it their all in every game as they start their Rugby Sevens World Cup campaign against Tonga in Cape Town on Friday.
Injera who has returned to the team for the global showpiece says they are determined to get good results as they look to match up their best ever performance and reach the semis.
The World Cup is played in a different format from the World Rugby Sevens Series and will be a straight knockout, starting with the pre-round of 16 where the top eight ranked teams in the world are exempted from.
“It is a knockout tournament and when you lose, you are out of the competition. We have to take a game at a time and that is what we have been talking about as a team. The first focus now is on Tonga and we know it will not be an easy tie. We need to put our focus right and give our best,” Injera said.
Looking at how the World Sevens Series has rolled on this past season, Injera says they cannot afford to underrate any team and should give their all against Tonga.
“The series is big now and teams have really closed the gap between the top nations. Now, everyone has a chance. World Rugby is improving and we have to stay at pace with it. For us, I think we are doing well especially looking at how we have blended in the new guys,” Injera noted.
He added; “We finished well in Los Angeles and hopefully we continue in the same way.”
His sentiments are shared by head coach Damian McGrath who says the tie against Tonga will not be an easy one, though it looks so on paper.
He has called on his players to maintain focus and concentration to give a shot at winning the first game, for a positive start to the campaign.
“The boys have really worked hard and looking at how they conduct themselves and work on the pitch, they are top class professional players who have embraced everything we have tried to do. Coach Kimani (Geoffrey) and Physio Lamech have really worked hard on them to prepare for the style of rugby that suits the team and we hope that we can continue in this way,” says the coach.
He adds; “Of course there will be hiccups but we are moving in the right direction and this being the last tournament of the year, we are looking to finish well.
On facing Tonga McGrath says; “Tonga are a very tactical team, physical with lots of flair. It is a sticky one and you can slip up quite easily if not careful. We need to focus sharply to get through the first barrier.”
The World Cup is being played in a straight knockout format and a victory against Tonga will take Shujaa to the round of 16 where they take on Argentina.
Meanwhile, Injera says he is delighted as he gears up for his fourth Rugby World Cup, having missed out on qualification with the 15s side earlier in July.
He hopes his fourth World Cup story ends well.
“I am really excited because it is something huge playing four World Cups. I am lucky and glad to be back within the fold and of course exciting because everyone wants to represent their country. I am looking forward to giving my best,” he adds.
Shujaa will be without the on-form Alvin ‘Buffa’ Otieno who has missed as he pursues personal interests while Daniel Taabu and Bush mwale have been omitted due to disciplinary issues.
The Shujaa vs Tonga game starts at 11:12am EAT.