Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Stubble trouble to cost World Cup spot

Reuters, TOKYO

Japan flyhalf Ryohei Yamanaka faces a two-year ban for rubbing on a hair-growth cream to try to grow a moustache, dashing his World Cup dreams, Brave Blossoms head coach John Kirwan said.

Kirwan said on Wednesday he expected the International Rugby Board (IRB) to throw the book at Yamanaka, ruling him out of the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.

“He’s got a hair-growth cream to try and grow a ‘mo’ [moustache],” All Black great Kirwan said. “Apparently he’s done that and it had a steroid in it and he didn’t know, which is sad because he’ll get banned for sure. It threw our plans a wee bit out because ideally for the World Cup you need to take three [flyhalfs].”

Yamanaka flew home from Asian Five Nations duty in Hong Kong last month after testing positive and Kirwan does not expect the player to figure in the World Cup.

“He’ll be lucky if gets six months,” Kirwan said. “He’ll probably get two years.

“I spoke to him at the time. I don’t think he was aware of the severity of it. We spent 24 hours trying to find out what he had taken,” he said. “It was a little tube of hair-growth cream. He just didn’t think. Apparently he has failed the [B sample] too. From what I gather he’s innocent, but [the IRB] take a dim view.”

Yamanaka apologized on his Twitter site after being sent home in shame, saying: “I am deeply sorry for causing such problems.”

The 22-year-old quickly added that the offending substance was “not a hair growth tonic which helps grow hair on the head.”

Kirwan appeared resigned to losing Yamanaka.

“The difficult thing for me is that he’s a young guy we were trying to bring through, hoping to take to the World Cup,” the former Italy coach said. “We were hoping he was going to kick on next year.”

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