By Harsha Amarasinghe
Former St. Peter’s College Captain Sandesh Jayawickrama has earned a place in the Sri Lanka fifteen-a-side squad ahead of the Asia Rugby Championship next month.
The Sri Lanka Team led by Roshan Weeraratne is set take wing to Malaysia yesterday (29) to play two friendly matches against the Malaysian National Team on May 2 and May 4 at the UMP Rugby Field, Kuala Lumpur.
Fly half Jayawickrama struggled for game time during the league completion but, turned out to be a vital cog in the Havelock Sports Club which went on to win the Clifford Cup.
With the retirement of Kandy SC star player Fazil Marija, the fly half position has been up for grabs and keeping that in mind the National Selectors have named five possible fly halves in the 37-man squad.
Army SC veteran Ashan Bandara who has had two outstanding seasons on the trot has been finally called up for the National Team along with Navy SC five-eighth Mohamed Abzal while there is also a place for CR and FC full back Kevin Dixon who was once recognised as a sevens specialist.
However, CH and FC kicking sensation Samuel Maduwantha is leading the race to start in that position.
Havelock SC scrum half Mithun Hapugoda who was out injured for a long time, made his mark in the recently concluded Inter-Club season and is named in the squad along with CR and FC half back Rahul de Silva and Air Force SC veteran Nuwan Perera who impressed at scrum half last season.
However, Captain Roshan Weeraratne is expected to be the first choice.
Hooker Azmir Fajudeen is another player who is set to make his international debut having impressed under Sanath Martis for Havies along with Faiz Abdulla.
With senior man Dushmantha Priyadarshana missing out on the tour with a knee injury, selectors have brought in Air Force SC’s Charles Praveen and Jason Melder who could possibly feature in the front row.
Sajith Saranga and Umesh Madushan are likely to be the first choice second rowers with Kasun de Silva and Sathya Ranatunga also being options.
Tharindu Chathuranga of Kandy Sports Club has also been named in the squad as a third rower along with Gihan Madushanka, Niwanka Prasad and Thilina Bandara.
Omalka Gunarathne seems to be the first choice number eight but Lasindu Ishan who played quite brilliantly for Havies last season is another option.
Police SC wing three quarter Sachith Silva, Havelock SC youngster Theekshana Dassanayake and Army SC speedster Sudharaka Dikkumbura would strengthen the Sri Lanka backline along with Reeza Raffaideen, Kavindu Perera, Anurada Herath, Budhhima Piyarathne, Dinuk Amarasinghe and Thilina Wijesinghe.
Sri Lanka Squad:
Roshan Weeraratne (Captain), Kavindu Perera, Anurada Herath, Kevin Dixon, Mithun Hapugoda, Thilina Wijesinghe, Buddhima Piyarathne, Tharindu Chathuranga, Dinuk Amarasinghe, Prasath Madushanka, Sajith Saranga, Sathya Ranatunga, Umesh Madushan, Yakoob Ali, Thilina Bandara, Azmir Fajudeen, Rahul de Silva, Uchitha Jayasooriya, Jason Melder, Mohamed Abzal, Theekshana Dassanayake, Lasindu Ishan, Samuel Maduwantha, Nuwan Perera, Sachith Silva, Ashan Bandara, Faiz Abdulla, Prabath Kumara, Sudharaka Dikkumubura, Kasun de Silva, Charles Praveen, Niwanka Prasad, Sandesh Jayawickrama, Omalka Gunarathne, Reeza Raffaideen, Gihan Madushanka, Mohamed Shabber.