By Harsha Amarasinghe
Police Sports Club are facing major injury worries as flanker Udara Sooriyapperuma and centre Iroshan Silva have been ruled out of their final fixture of the Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament's first round against Army Sports Club at Welisara tomorrow (17).
Former captain Sooriyapperuma has been one of the unsung heroes in what is turning out to be a memorable season for the Cops.
In addition to his performance in set-plays, the veteran has been one of the leaders in their pack along with hooker Rasith Silva and Police would really miss his presence.
Udaya Sanjula, who has also been in and out of the team due to injuries, will return to the third row as a flanker to replace Sooriyapperuma who has suffered a knee injury while former Zahira skipper Mummar Deen is set to remain at number eight.
Policemen who have sealed the third spot of the points table ahead of top teams such as CR & FC and CH & FC would also be without centre Iroshan.
Iroshan is enjoying his best season at club level playing alongside Fijian sensation Emosi Vunivosa, sharing eight tries between them, but he too has been sidelined with a knee injury he picked up during the Air Force game last week.
Vihanga Pivithuru who had lost his place in the first XV despite being a regular member last year, will look to put in a strong display in the absence of Iroshan.
Iroshan was leading the team in the absence of first team captain Shanaka Harischandra who is out with a hamstring injury, but with both now sidelined, hooker Rasith Silva will lead the team.
Army Sports Club is expected to field pretty much the same team they used against Navy Sports Club last week, making just one change with scrum half Manoj Bandara, who is having an ankle injury, being replaced by Chamath Fernando.
In the absence of a number of senior players, Ranjan Rukmal and Shehan Silva are set to join Aravinda Karunathilake in the front row while Nalaka Maduranga and Nalan Deshapriya will form the second row.
Army’s Fijian player Tomasi Caqusau will continue the centre partnership with Thusitha Senanayake while Sachin Gamage has been preferred to Gayan Salinda at full back.
Army XV: Ranjan Rukmal, Aravinda Karunarathne, Shehan Silva, Nalaka Maduranga, Nalan Devapriya, Manoj Wickramasinghe, Upul Abeyratne, Chameera Silva, Chamath Fernando and Ashan Bandara, Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Tomasi Caqusau, Thusitha Senanayake, Dhanushka Thalwatte, Sachin Gamage
Police XV: Lahiru Pavithra, Rasith Silva, Dhanushka Edirisooriya, Mohan Wimalarathne, Adisa Hadunpathirna, Udaya Sanjula, Vageesha Weerasinghe, Mummar Deen, Primesh Dhanushka and Nalin Kumar, Sujan Kodithuwakku, Emosi Vunivosa, Vihanga Pivithuru, Sachith Silva, Suranga Kasun