By Ranil Prematilake reporting from Hong Kong
The first-leg of the Asian Sevens Rugby Series 2018, came to a successful conclusion barring the imminent threat of a typhoon delaying the departure of the teams from Hong Kong as the focus turns towards the second-leg in South Korea.
Commenting on the effort over the weekend, Sri Lanka’s National Coach of international repute Peter Woods was a man content having accomplished the target.
“Obviously our main goal was to reach the Cup semi-final, which we did here. We need to collect points to be in the top three. I am very
happy with our performance, we finished third, which is two steps up from last year” detailed Woods.
When posed with the question as to whether Sri Lanka would be able to bridge the gap between the top two nations, an optimistic Woods was quick to point out on the Asian Games achievement.
“We were two points away from beating an even stronger Japanese outfit. Sevens is on the day. Some teams play well on the two days,bounce of the ball, referees call and some mistakes. Look at South Korea for an example.” (Making reference to the pathetic showing at Spring Valley)
“Yes, I know we have to bridge the gap. Hong Kong at the moment, I don’t want to be too political, (pausing) it’s not a national team. We are closing the gap we have some good players”.
The shoulder injury sustained by Kavindu Perera did not seem to be a major concern with the expectation of including Nishon Perera for the South Korean leg.
“Nishon, he would have been on this tour, but he twisted his ankle before the Asian Games, (he) should be fine in a week and a half. He is really a clever player in midfield, good communication, solid defender, great pace and skill. He’s up there and will be in reckoning,” said a confident sounding Woods.
When questioned on the recent changes in the administrative setup of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) and the impact thereof a rather cautious Woods stated: “The CEO, the High Performance Manager, there has been a lot of changes. Hopefully that will be sorted out. We can do so much on the field we need support off the field, which I know they are trying to generate now which looks pretty positive.”
The Sri Lanka Sevens Side is no longer a pushover and is a force to be reckoned with in the Asian circuit, a fact which was manifestly apparent even to a mere spectator at the Hong Kong Football Club over the weekend, simply from the degree of respect with which the Sri Lankan side was treated as an opponent by powerhouses Japan and Hong Kong.