By Harsha Amarasinghe and Sandun Kodithuwakku
From winning its only league title in 2014 Navy Sports Club have gone on to become the second worst team in the league table finishing seventh in the last season, but they are hopeful over a possible reunion with the former captain Yoshitha Rajapaksa who was reinstated in the Sri Lanka Navy last September.
“I know he was reinstated in the Sri Lanka Navy but I don’t know if he is playing for Navy Sports Club, but he does play for us, that would be massive for us given that he has played for Sri Lanka and a very experienced player,” Navy first XV captain Richie Dharmapala told Daily Mirror.
However, the nippy scrum-half is satisfied with the experience he has already got in that squad.
“We have already got a lot of senior players such as Mushin (Faleel), Thilina (Weerasinghe), Pieris (Supun) and Radeesha (Senevirathne). So with their support I am confident of doing well this season,” added the former Science College player.
Navy have also signed up some school-leavers from Trinity College, Vidyartha College and St. Anthony’s College as they look to get back to the winning ways.
Unlike the last season, a bottom-half finish meant that Navy are allowed to field one overseas player this season which should strengthen them.
“It is a huge boost that we have a foreign player, but as we all know this is a team game and we need every player to perform well. So I think this will encourage all the players in our squad and hopefully we can put in some good performances this season,” elder brother of Richard Dharmapala who led Kandy Sports Club to league glory last season stated.
Thilina Weerasinghe their golden boy who went on to become the highest points-scorer a season ago had a knee injury which kept him out of action for such a long time, but Navy assistant coach Dev Anand is confident that the full back will be back by the second or third week of the league competition.
“Thilina had a somewhat big injury on his knee and it took a while, but he is recovering well right now. I would say he is almost ready to play. He is practicing now and we hope to get him back to his favoured full back position by the second or third match,” Anand told Daily Mirror.
Daily Mirror Prediction
Navy’s team manager was a bit grumpy when Daily Mirror predicted them a ‘bottom-half finish’ at the start of last season, and challenged to prove the predictions wrong. Well, unfortunately for them, they finished behind Police and Army at 7th. Apart from the foreigner, they have not signed many players, should be a fight between them and Air Force for the basement.
Player to watch out for
Chathura Senevirathne – Apart from being a really strong back division player and a sensational kicker, the former Josephian is best remembered for his cocky celebration in front of then Isipathana winger Chamod Fernando after leading St. Joseph’s College to its first ever Milo President’s Trophy few years ago, but having now represented Sri Lanka national team, Senevirathne should be a much improved rugby player. It’s time he made his uncle and former Sri Lanka kicking sensation Nalaka Weerakkody proud.