Kenya have dropped ten players from the squad for the IRB World Series opener in Australia in a dispute over pay and contracts.
The players, including wingers Collins Injera and Horace Otieno and back-rower Biko Adema, were reportedly unhappy that the board had agreed to draw up performance-driven contracts without consulting them.
They also demanded to be paid appearance fees and bonuses before taking part in the annual Safaricom tournament which gets underway at the Kasarani stadium on Friday.
“We have been accused in the past of running a team that is not competition hungry and that some of the players were underperforming at the top level,” said KRU chairman Mwangi Muthee.
“That’s why we have offered these performance-driven contracts to ensure that the selected players are at the top of their game to be considered.
“There is a lot of talent coming through, who are arguably putting their claim in the lucrative Sevens squad. It will be unfair to lock them out.”
Kenya will enter three teams in the three-day competition including the defending champions, Shujaa.
Other participating countries include Australia, Argentina, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa.
The tournament will be used to pick the final squad to play in the IRB Sevens World Series, which opens at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia early next month.
Kenya coach Paul Treu said the decision to drop the experienced players and replace them with upcoming ones would not affect his team’s performance in the World series, which also counts as a qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“It is going to be tough to replace players such as Horace Otieno and Collins Injera who have played over 40 tournaments. But we cannot force anyone to come for practise,” said Treu.
“We have had to make a choice to pick new players who are committed to the squad, and you never know, they may surprise us in the World Series.
“We are committed to become one of the four top teams to earn automatic qualification for Rio. That’s our target.”