By: Harsha Amarasinghe
COLOMBO, Nov 29 (Daily Mirror) - CR and FC are gunning to go one step further from last season in which they came second to Kandy Sports Club, but Head Coach Dushanth Lewke expects tougher challenges this time around in the Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament.
The Red Shirts secured eight victories in what was a brilliant season for the Longden Place Club, but the defeat to Kandy SC in the key game saw them finishing second.
"Last season we won almost all of our matches but lost to Kandy SC which was why we failed to win the championship. But this season with the new recruitments, I think we'd be up there challenging the league. However, I must say, we will have to face a tougher competition this time around with teams like Havelock SC and CH and FC coming back to their best," Lewke said in an interview with Daily Mirror.
CR have already strengthened their pack with the signing of Sri Lanka forward Adeesha Weeratunga while Lewke believes that Randy Silva and Dinushan Ariyapala replace Chathura Seneviratne who has left the club.
"Out of the new signings I am really hopeful that Adeesha will be good for us because one area we really struggled last season was line-outs. So he will add some extra strength to our team as an extra jumper. In addition to that we have also signed hooker Venura Kodagoda, centres Ariyapala and Randy Silva, Trinesh Silva, Naveen Marasinghe and Randul Senanayake," added Lewke.
Despite the big signings, Lewke believes that the combination remains the key for his side.
"If you look at teams like Kandy SC one of the reasons why they have been successful for a long period is that they have got their combination right for the longer period. We are also in the process of doing that with players like Manelka Ruberu, Murshid Zubair and Gemunu Chethiya playing for us for like two years now. So, hopefully, we have work on them achieve success," former Royal College Vice-Captain said.
Flanker Suhiru Anthony is expected to lead CR and FC for the upcoming season and Lewke has confidence in the Sri Lanka forward.
"Suhiru is an experienced campaigner and he has played for Sri Lanka for many years, so we want to utilise his experience and leadership. We have also got Gemunu Chethiya and Murshid Zubair as our Vice-Captains and our former Captain Kavindu de Costa is also there - so that's going to be our leadership group," Lewke revealed.
According to the former Sri Lanka number eight, CR have got a very balanced team for this season.
"I think we have got a very exciting backline with good youngsters and at the same time our pack has got good experience, so I believe we have got a very balanced side," Lewke added.