By Harsha Amarasinghe
Kandy fly-half Nigel Ratwatte has been ruled out of their Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament match against Army Sports Club at Ratmalana tomorrow (24) due to a hamstring injury.
Ratwatte was tipped to be the successor of Kandy legend Fazil Marija who retired at the end of last season, but it has now come down to the scenario which many felt to be Kandy’s weakness coming into this season.
Arshad Jamaldeen will be brought into the starting line-up in place of Ratwatte, but whether he would be able to match the creativity of Fazil Marija and the stability of Nigel Ratwatte, remains to be in doubt.
Jamaldeen of course has gained experience over the last few years, but the former Royal player has mostly been used as a reserve player which means this could be quite challenging for him personally.
Perhaps Kandy would be better off playing Thilina Wijesinghe at fly-half given that he has been a regular member of this side for a couple of years now. However, the Kandy management confirmed that Jamaldeen will start at five-eighth.
Wing three quarter Anurudda Wilwara meanwhile, will return to the starting line-up having recovered from a knee injury which kept him out of action for months.
The Sri Lanka sevens player was the highest try scorer at the end of the first half of last season before being injured and the Thomian will be eager to regain his try-scoring form on his return to the side replacing Lavanga Perera.
Kandy have opted to leave prop forward Ashan Darling and flanker Jason Dissanayake on the bench with both of them more than likely to make an appearance in the second half.
Ganuka Dissanayake has been handed his first start of the season as the former Isipathana prop forward joins Yakoob Ali and Uchitha Jayasooriya in the front row with Lasitha Attanagoda who suffered a nasty injury in the first week still recovering.
Army would have fancied themselves against this Kandy side had they been allowed to field one of their Fiji players, but since yesterday’s court order which forces out both Sosiveta Boila and Savenaca Qelo Ualuvu, it would be an uphill task for the Soldiers.
Centre Sameera Bulathsinhala and wing three quarter Sudaraka Dikkumbura were their standout performers in terms of tries last season and having them back in the team should strengthen Army.
ARMY XV: Niroshan Ranasinghe, Aravinda Karunathilake, Sugath Nanayakkara, Dinusha Adikaram, Nalan Premanath, Prabath Kumara, Upul Abeyratne (c), Danuka Wijethilake, Mohamed Risvi and Ashan Bandara, Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Kasun Maduranga, Sameera Bulathisinhala, Madura Nuwan, Gayan Salinda.
KANDY XV: Yakoob Ali, Uchitha Jayasooriya, Ganuka Dissanayake, Suhiru Anthony, Heshan Kalhara, Tharindu Chathuranga, Shehan Pathirana, Buwaneka Udangamuwa, Roshan Weeraratne and Arshad Jamaldeen, Vishwamithra Jayasinghe, Richard Dharmapala (c), Danushka Ranjan, Anurudda Wilwara, Thilina Wijesinghe.