Tour squad to Chinese Taipei to be picked on Friday | Daily News
National rugby squad camp at Sugathadasa Stadium ahead of Asian Championship

Tour squad to Chinese Taipei to be picked on Friday

Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi and Rohan Chinthaka
Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi and Rohan Chinthaka

The National Rugby pool began a week-long residential camp at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday (Monday) in preparation for the Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) Division I before finalizing the tour squad to Chinese Taipei.

Sri Lanka is scheduled to play Philippines on June 29 in one semifinal while Singapore face hosts Chinese Taipei in the other semifinal. The final will take place on May 1.

“We thought to have a camp in Welisara before they went on the Malaysian tour but it was cancelled because of the situation in the country. During the Malaysian tour the boys were not fully fit but they are now well prepared both physically and mentally after three weeks of training. The residential camp at the Sugathadasa Stadium before the team’s departure will further help in bonding the team,” said Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi, Chef de Mission of the Sri Lanka squad which toured Malaysia.

“We have a very good young squad whose average age is about 24. Their work rate is high. Everybody knows if they practice hard they can earn a place in the side on merit unlike in the past when players were selected on reputation. It is also a morale booster for players from the three Services to vie for places in the squad. Previously only one or two from the Services represented Sri Lanka. Now there are 10 Servicemen (four from Navy, three each from Air Force and Army) in the pool,” said Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi, who has been Chairman of Navy Rugby for the past five years.

Although Navy had a mixed season, they have contributed some outstanding players to the national team.

“Forwards Gihan Perera and Kasun de Silva and winger Buddhima Piyaratne performed well on the Malaysian tour. Generally last season we were not up to the standard of last year when we were league runners-up. We are in the process of reorganizing the team under a new coach. We are represented in all three divisions though most of them have never played rugby but are super fit. For example prop Kasun de Silva has never played school rugby and is now playing for Sri Lanka,” said Rear Admiral Deshapriya Hettiarachchi who is Director General Logistics of Sri Lanka Navy.

Team manager Rohan Chinthaka said the final tour squad of 26 would be picked on Friday after the completion of the residential training camp.

“I am sure we can beat Philippines because we are mentally strong as a unit now. There were no less than 15 freshers in the squad which played in Malaysia. They are confident after going down narrowly (31-26) to a Malaysian side which comprised five Fijians,” said Chinthaka, a former Isipathana and, CR and FC full back.

“The Malaysia tour squad only had about 12 days practice. We could not structure our training as we wanted but we performed above expectations because players played with a lot of heart,” said Chinthaka who has been High Performance Operation Manager at Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) for the last six years after having been at CR and FC for a decade.

“My main duty at CR was managing players which is hard and tough because individuals are different. At national level my role included logistics and administration from the time an agreement is signed to take part in a tournament such as handling international documentation,” said Chinthaka who expressed his gratitude to CEO of SLR Rohan Guneratne for supporting him. 

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