The Best XV of 2017.
The year 2017 will go down as one of the most memorable in recent times for more reasons than one. From nail biting league action in the second half of the 2016/17 season, to the most competitive sevens series in recent times and a Kenya Simbas campaign that could have been our stepping stone to the 2019 World Cup.
Locally though, the fifteens code was dominated by one side, the KCB Lions. A league and cup double, a final in the Eric Shirley Shield and a recent Floodies title underlined the Lions dominance. In coming up with the 2017 XV, we could have simply picked their most recent team sheet and pasted it on here. There were however some exemplary performances far away from the Lion’s den that deserve the accolades.
Here we go ;
1. Oscar Simiyu (KCB) – The young loose head had a 2017 to remember, a solid season for KCB saw him finally get his first cap for the Simbas and he wasted no time in making his mark in the red and black. Strong in the scrum and devastating with ball in hand, if he keeps the same form going the Kenya number 1 shirt will be his for a long while to come.
2. George Asin (KCB) – Another who had a strong 2017, culminating with a call up to the national team, his run was however cut short by injury during camp with the Simbas in Capetown. Through out the Simbas campaign you felt that we could have done better in some instances had Asin been available. Accurate in the line out and possessing the skill of a fly half on attack, we can’t wait for his return early in 2018.
3. Curtis Lilako (KCB) – Many questioned his abilities towards the end of the 2016 season, I doubt those questions still stand at the end of 2017. Having led his KCB side to 3 trophies in 2017 and reclaiming his position in the Kenya Simbas after being unceremoniously dropped, Lilako has definitely solidified his position as the best tight head of 2017.
4. George Nyambua (Kabras) – If there is a player who will look back on 2017 with a wide smile, it will be George Nyambua. We could have easily placed him at lock or at back row, that is how good he was this year. He started the year as a lock but finished it as one of the country’s best blind side flankers. A Kenya Simba’s first cap and played one test as match day captain. Nyambua wrapped up the year with a Magharibi Michezo award for best rugby player of 2017. It is hard to see Kenya’s Siya Kolisi slowing down anytime soon.
5. Oliver Mang’eni (KCB) – The line out maestro keeps getting better with age, after a remarkable season with KCB, Oliver was the first of the infamous ‘Kenya Simbas 6’ to be recalled, after it dawned on the technical bench just how vital he was. Apart from his impact on the line out, Oliver improved his ball carrying and defence immensely in 2017.
6. Humphrey Kayange (Mwamba) – Tall is the real definition of aging like fine wine, whiskey, if you so prefer. Humphrey squared it out with players almost half his age and still came out on top, literally, finishing as the 2016/17 Kenya Cup top try scorer. His experience was vital in Mwamba’s campaign through out the year. Were it not for an injury, Tall could have easily made the Simbas side this year, best part is, he is still going.
7. Davis Chenge (KCB) – The Dinosaur had a solid 2017 after coming back from injury in 2016, he made the number 7 shirt his for club and country. Chenge was consistently immense on both defence and attack and is one of the few players who was active throughout the calendar year, across the playing codes i.e Fifteens and sevens.
8. Max Adaka (Kabras) – The diminutive number 8 who had toyed with the idea of playing at hooker came back with a bang in 2017. With the captain’s armband, he fell just short of leading his side to a league and cup double after leading his side to both finals. It made no difference whether he had ball in hand or not, he was equally immense, it was surprising that some though he was ‘fat and unfit.’
9. Samson Onsomu (Impala) – The 2017 player of the year as overwhelmingly voted by you the little Fijian cemented his place as first choice nine for the Kenya Simbas. His distribution and command of any game he was involved in this year, was second to none.
10. Isaac Adimo (Quins) – After coming under criticism, Wamamba proved his doubters wrong with solid displays for the Quin in the first half of 2017. He then followed these up with some great displays for the Simbas, though not as consistent as for club, Adimo ends 2017 as the best fly half in the land.
11. Ginton Adongo (Quins) – Another whose year was cut short by injury, but by the time injury hit at the Driftwood sevens, Ginton had already made his mark on the year 2017. Fresh from the Leos in January of 2017, he quickly amassed eight tries finishing joint fourth on the Kenya Cup try scoring list off his powerful runs from the blind side wing.
12. Max Kangeri (Homeboyz) – The bullish inside center owned every single opposite number he faced in 2017, Max was immense for the Homeboyz in 2017. That hit on one of Nakuru’s bad men at the NAC is probably one of the highlights of the year. He however missed out on a Kenya Simba’s call up due to injury concerns. Watch out for him in 2018.
13. James Kilonzo (KCB) – If anyone owned 2017, then it had to be The King, Zaik wa Kang Kang it is sad that we didn’t get to see what the rest of the year held for this absolute monster on the pitch. In the six months or so that he was above ground, he was without a doubt the best player around. It did not matter where he played, he always delivered. We hope he has kept his form going for Heaven RFC.
14. Darwin Mukidza (KCB) – The man of the matches added another stellar year to his resume. Mukidza has for the past 3 or so years been the most consistent and outstanding performer in Kenyan rugby. What is more impressive is how he delivers for club at 15 and for country at 14, without fading. In 2017 he was part of the KCB leadership that steered the club to the league and cup double, for the Simbas he captained the side to the Elgon cup trophy. His accuracy with ball on foot and in hand seems to get better by the day.
15. Philip Wokorach (Kabras) – The Ugandan Maestro who should be holding a Kenyan Passport, Wokorach who also made our dream 7 of 2017 was an phenomenon for Kabras and the Uganda cranes, across the playing codes in 2017. His deft step and accurate kick and chase game is bound to wow defenders and crowds well past 2017.
Think we missed anyone, who makes your 2017 best XV? Share with us in the comments section below.
Enjoy your holidays and see you on the other side of the year…
P.S Did you catch the Hecklers epic review of 2017? Well catch them here https://youtu.be/_o7sTVDWVdU