By Harsha Amarasinghe
Flanker Jason Dissanayake has finally been cleared to make his first appearance for Kandy Sports Club in the Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament after the Sri Lanka International was forced to be sidelined for the entire last season due to a contract dispute with his former club CR ad FC.
The former Vidyartha rugby star will be included in the Kandy starting line-up for the league opener against CH&FC at Race Course International Stadium on Saturday (4).
Kandy has also been boosted by the return of flanker Shehan Pathirana who has completely recovered from an injury to join Dissanayake and Buwaneka Udangamuwa in the third row.
Last season’s top scorer Danushka Ranjan made a mockery of CH in the first game last season scoring as many as five tries in a 96-0 thrashing and the Sevens star will look to continue his fine form against the Maitland Crescent Club.
Scrum-half Srinath Sooriyabandara is expected to start with former skipper Roshan Weeraratne being injured while Thilina Wijesinghe has kept at full-back despite Nigel Ratwatte’s return to full fitness.
CH will also have to keep a close eye on Anurudda Wilwara who has been in sensational form. The former Thomian was Kandy’s best player during the West Asia Club Rugby Championship which concluded a few weeks ago.
These two teams meeting in the opening day is a clear reflection on how well Kandy played last season and how poor CH was. However, it must be mentioned that Kandy will not have a walk in the park this time in the opening day as they are facing a much better CH side.
The Maitland Crescent Club of course will bank on that heavy forward back which features the likes of Sajith Saranga, Sathya Ranatunga, Terence Henry and Matheesha Sarathchandra. They have also got a very decent backline with players such as Lee Keegal, Anurada Herath and Hashan Maduranaga.
Herath moved from the Longden Place to Maitland Crescent having received only few opportunities to prove himself since returning from injury at CR where he was playing second fiddle to Sashan Mohamed and Kavindu Perera, but he did impress the national head coach Peter Wood earning call-up for the Sevens side. The former Peterite would certainly take this chance to demonstrate his talent at the longer version.
On the other hand what an opportunity it is for young Samuel Maduwantha who is set to be their first choice full-back for the season. The place kicking sensation from St. Anthony’s College promised a lot early on, but has had a season to forget in his last year, but now he has been given another chance to fulfill his potential.
Kandy are easily the best side in Sri Lanka at the moment, but CH certainly are a decent side. The big difference however is Kandy having Fazil Marija at fly-half with his opposite number being Rohitha Rajapaksa.
Kandy XV: Ashan Darling, Damith Dissanayake, Ganuka Dissanayake, Suhiru Anthony, Dimitri Wijetunga, Jason Dissanayake, Shehan Pathirana, Buwaneka Udangamuwa, Srinath Sooriyabandara and Fazil Marija, Richard Dharmapala, Gayan Weeraratne (captain), Danushka Ranjan, Anurudda Wilwara, Thilina Wijesinghe
CH&FC XV: Sathya Ranatunga, Pulasthi Bandara, Henry Terence, Sajith Saranga, Matheesha Sarathchandra, Sasanka Ariyaratne, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Chathura Dilshan, Faariq Ali and Rohitha Rajapaksa (Captain), Anuradha Herath, Lee Keegal, Chula Susantha, Hashan Maduranga, Samuel Maduwantha