Willy Ambaka in action for Kenya at the Cape Town Sevens last December. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

NAIROBI – Kenyan sevens star Willy Ambaka has joined New Zealand’s top provincial club Manawatu Turbos, becoming the first East African to play professional rugby in Oceania.

Ambaka, a World Rugby sevens player of the year finalist in 2013, who has been playing wing for Kenya, is expected to switch positions to fullback for his new club, which has also signed former All Blacks trialist Te Rangatira Waitokia from another New Zealand provincial side, Wanganui.

“I am most comfortable on the right wing,” Ambaka told the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) website.

“But I’m looking at this as a learning experience. It is always good to have a change of environment.”

The 27-year-old pulled out of the Kenyan team ahead of the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens in April, as he was believed to have been sorting out his visa application which had been held up by the New Zealand immigration authorities.

This will be the third professional stint for the Kenyan, who rose to prominence in the World Sevens Series in the 2012/13 season, having been handed his debut back in 2011.

He spent a season playing second division rugby for Lyon in France in the 2013-2014 season, and also Western Province in 2014-15.


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