By Harsha Amarasinghe
Fit-again Danushka Ranjan who in a major injury boost returned to the Sri Lanka squad ahead of the third leg of the Asia Seven Series in Colombo this weekend, is out to ‘make Sri Lanka rugby fans proud again’ after the Tuskers ended up being as low as sixth in the Korea a couple of weeks ago.
“The entire team understands that it is not great finishing sixth in the Asia Seven Series. The third leg is probably the only leg that we play in front of our fans in Sri Lanka and we are desperate to make them proud again after what happened in Korea,” Ranjan who was ruled out of the first and second legs of the Asia Seven Series due to a hamstring injury told the Daily Mirror.
The Kandy centre also stated that he is pleased with their preparations for the third leg and they would target a top-three finish in order to secure a place in the Hong Kong 7’s next year.
“We have had a lot of injuries over the last couple of months, so we have got a slightly new bunch of players, yet our preparations have been great and the team is really looking forward to the third leg. I believe that we are in a position where we could still finish third overall, but to do that we need a top-three finish and that would help us qualify for the Hong Kong 7’s as well. We need to play tournaments of that quality to improve further,” the Sri Lankan try-machine added.
Ranjan’s club captain Gayan Weeraratne has also returned to the squad along with CR and FC duo Omalka Gunarathne and Kavindu Perera while Srinath Sooriyabandara will lead the team in the absence of injured Sudharshana Muthuthanthri.
“I think he (Weeraratne) is a very important part of our team especially, in this moment where we lack a bit of experience. He is the most senior player in the squad and I hope his experience would be very useful,” Ranjan said of senior man Weeraratne.
Sri Lanka were handed a devastating draw in the second leg where they had to compete against strong Hong Kong and South Korean sides during the group stage. However, this time the Tuskers would be up against Hong Kong and China in addition to minnows Chinese Taipei.
“No team is easy at this stage and we know that, but having said that I personally believe we have a better draw this time, but we have got to beat one of the big sides and we are ready to give our 100% during this tournament,” revealed Ranjan.
SRI LANKA SQUAD: Srinath Sooriyabandara, Gayan Weeraratne, Danushka Ranjan, Danush Dayan, Kevin Dixon, Kavindu Perera, Omalka Gunaratne, Dinuk Amarasinghe, Naveen Henakankanamge, Sudam Parinda, Reeza Raffaideen, Adeesha Weeratunga.