By Ranil Prematilake
Sri Lanka’s Hong Kong bound Sevens Rugby Squad ran into the unexpected at the eleventh-hour when fly half Chanaka Chandimal had to be ruled out due to an illness (chicken-pox).
Chandimal has been replaced by Kevin Dixon. Sri Lanka is drawn to face a full strength Japan in the opening game of the Asian Sevens Series 2017 – Hong Kong edition.
The kick-off is scheduled for 11.00 a.m. (Sri Lanka time) on Friday (1). Thereafter, Chinese Taipei awaits them at 1.30 p.m. (Sri Lanka time).
The last group game on Friday sees the Islanders pitted against South Korea at 4.22 p.m. (Sri Lanka time).
The Sri Lanka Squad comprises of several new faces and in effect broadens the player base at National level.
“It’s a good thing. Our challenge is to develop the depth and loyalty to the National Jersey,” said Imthisham Marikar – the High Performance Director of Sri Lanka Rugby yesterday.
“We have been given a mandate to work around a squad of 18 to be contracted (by Sri Lanka Rugby) and those who would be included are the best and those in the right form. We need to consistently play tougher opposition- at least Tier II Nations. Our aim is to win a medal at next year’s Asian Games,” explained Marikar.
“The loss of Chanaka Chandimal is a huge blow. However, Dixon (Kevin) has been slotted into this pivotal position (fly-half) and was involved in the final training session,” added Marikar.
The forwards combination at the two-day tournament at the Kings Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong would rotate between Jason Dissanayake, Skipper Sudharshana Muthuthanthri, Hirantha Perera, Omalka Gunaratne and Dhanusha Dayan.
Meanwhile, the ‘Daily Mirror’ learns that Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) is awaiting Sports Ministry concurrence to grant National Contracts to its players.
When contacted, President SLR, Asanga Seneviratne confirmed that a proposal has been submitted to the Minister of Sports, who is due to table this proposition before the Cabinet of Ministers for their approval.
Moreover, Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara is said to be pursuing the setting up of a High Performance Centre for Rugby Football – a pre-requisite in the context of the present day if Sri Lanka is to be competitive at international level.
The bottom line being, the financial considerations, which essentially should be channeled through state patronage.