Nairobi — Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu has been handed another headache ahead of the new HSBC Sevens World Series season with captain Andrew Amonde joining Billy Odhiambo on the injury list.
Amonde will be out of action for three months after undergoing surgery on Sunday having worsened a hernia injury while in action for his club KCB RFC at the Christie Sevens in Nairobi.
The Kenya Sevens star was in excruciating pain on Sunday after featuring for KCB in the Main Cup quarters and had to be helped to the ambulance by Dan Sikuta who turns out for Kabras Sugar.
"The injury had worsened and he had to go for surgery three hours after picking it. He will be out for three months and that is a huge miss for us as a club and as an extension to the national team," KCB RFC Sevens coach Dennis Mwanja said.
Meanwhile, Odhiambo who returned to action for his club Mwamba midway through the sevens season, picked up a shoulder injury at the Prinsloo Sevens in Nakuru and his return date might as well drag all the way to next year.
However, the national team is boosted with the return of winger Collins Injera who featured for Christie Sevens for the first time in two years last weekend, playing a role in Mwamba's best performance of the season where they finished fifth.
Injera said he was pleased to return to full fitness having struggled with injury for most part of last season and he hopes his presence can inspire the national team to better their performance.
"It really feels great to be back though it wasn't easy because the normal training we do and the actual match day are two different things. But I am glad to come back and play because these matches are important to get the fitness back especially now that Safari Sevens has been cancelled," Injera said.
Injera hopes to step up his comeback to fitness during this weekend's season-ending Dala Sevens in Kisumu before fully shifting focus to the national team ahead of a tough season.
Apart from the World Rugby Series, Shujaa also have the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby Sevens World Cup to contend for.
"The new season is quite challenging because it is a long one, but the basic thing for us is definitely to do better than we did last season in the series. We are also looking to medal at the Commonwealth Games and for the World Cup, we need to do better than the previous times where we have reached the semis," Injera noted.
The number two on the World Rugby all-time top try scorers ranking says he will fight for a place in the team ahead of the season opening Dubai Sevens in the United Arab Emirates in December where Kenya has been pooled with neighbors Uganda, South Africa and Canada.
"It is a very tough pool and it is good it comes early on in the season. Uganda is a vastly improving team and we have seen with the players playing in the local circuit. South Africa, Canada are also tough teams so we should not expect it easy," Injera said.
A core of the squad has had a 10-week pre-season training program but head coach Simiyu is expected to re-jig the side with several players having impressed in the ongoing National Sevens Circuit.
"Our preparations are going on well and the boys are also playing in the local circuit, where we will be selecting the team for the year 2017-18. We are planning to use Ausopul 7s in South Africa and Safland 7s in Namibia as build ups to Dubai," Simiyu is quoted as saying on the official KRU website.