Kenya's Chipu has been dealt a major blow ahead of their final World Rugby Under 20 Trophy Pool “A” match against Japan on Wednesday after Andrew Siminyu and Michelle Brighetti became the latest players to join the growing injury list.
Siminyu, a prop from Hillcrest School in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, sustained an ankle injury in Kenya’s 26-24 win over Brazil on Saturday night. UK-based Michelle Brighetti has been ruled out after spraining his ankle during training on Monday.
The two regulars join Kenya Harlequin duo of Jeff Mutuku and Douglas Kahuri on the sidelines. Mutuku and Kahuri missed the Brazil game after picking hamstring and ankle injuries respectively in the 63-11 loss to Uruguay last Tuesday.
Coach Paul Odera was coy when asked about the availability of the trio of Mutuku, Kahuri and Siminyu.
“Michelle is out completely but for the rest it’s still too early to give an assessment. We have to wait, we will assess these injuries and see how to stop them from playing at speed,” Odera told Nation Sport.
Siminyu made the trip to Brazil despite missing out on the Barthes Cup due to academic commitments. Kenya qualified for World U20 Trophy as African champions after defeating Namibia 21-18 in the final of the Barthes Cup in Nairobi in April this year.
Although Odera’s charges are out of contention for a place in the final, they still have slim hopes of playing in the third place playoff if they finish second in their group.
To remain in contention for the bronze medal, Chipu must beat the 2014 and 2017 champions Japan and hope Brazil stop Uruguay.
The top two teams in each pool will qualify for the final while the runners-up will battle it out for third place.
Going into the last round of preliminaries to be played on Wednesday, Japan lead Pool “A” with 10 points followed by Uruguay (six), Kenya (four) and hosts Brazil (two).
Portugal and Tonga sit atop Pool “B” level on 10 points followed by Canada (two points) while Hong Kong is bottom without a point. Ranking matches, including the final, will be played on Sunday.
The winner of this eight-nation competition will join France, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Wales, Italy, Georgia, Ireland and Fiji in the premier age-grade competition, World Rugby Under 20 Championship in 2020.