Nigerian rugby players
A provisional squad for the Confederation of African Rugby Sevens Tournament in Rabat, Morocco, has been announced by the Nigerian Rugby Football Federation.
The squad of 20 players will be trimmed to a final travelling squad of twelve to compete for a berth at the IRB Sevens World Cup in Russia next year. The provisional squad is made up of 6 forwards, 10 backs and 4 utility players.
National Coach, Steve Lewis, in announcing the squad explained that the only criterion for selection was quality and skill. The coach has spent the last three weekends assessing the players under consideration both at home and abroad in the most comprehensive rugby selection process ever undertaken by a Nigerian team.
Three weeks ago, Lewis flew to the UK to watch two teams made up of Nigerian players on the fringe of national selection play in the Harpenden Pub Sevens in England.
Both teams were knocked out at the quarter final stage of the annual tournament (which was won by the England international team) but gave the coach the opportunity to see several players he had never seen before.
A week later he ran the rule over northern based players at trials in Zaria. Last Sunday players in the South, East and West of the country were put through their paces and given their chance to stake their claims for a plane ticket to Morocco during trials at the National Institute of Sports in Lagos.
Several players in the squad are still involved in knock out rounds of competitions for their clubs in the UK which may eliminate them from selection to the final squad. Four players not named in the squad are nursing injuries and their fitness will be monitored by NRFF management in the UK before the final travelling squad is announced.
The coaching and trial sessions in Nigeria included a sevens coaching session, rigorous fitness tests and trials matches.
Every rugby club in the country was invited to nominate and send their best sevens rugby players to attend the trials held within Nigeria.
“The reason for announcing an enlarged provisional squad is because we are still not in a position to confirm the availability of several players who are still involved with their clubs. There are also a few guys who are coming back from injury and we want to monitor their progress and fitness before a final decision is made.” said Lewis
The 20 man squad announced validates the selection process which has seen a net cast wide to find the players with the genuine ability to represent Nigeria with honour at the highest level of the game.
FORWARDS: Didi Akinluyi, Mark Olegbude, CJ Osazuwa, Olisah Ufodiama, Eji Uzoigbe, Obi Wilson
BACKS: Peter Cole, Ese Enajerow,Ari Goualin, Nuhu Ibrahim, Temi Okenla, Abdul Malik Salihu, Yayaha Samson, Will Sharp, Chiso Uzochukwu, Rob Worrincy
UTILITY PLAYERS: David Akinluyi, Kene Ejikeme, Joe Mbu, Mike Worrincy