Five Kandy SC players withdraw from National Sevens pool ahead of Asian Series | Daily News


Five Kandy SC players withdraw from National Sevens pool ahead of Asian Series

Five players from Kandy SC have made themselves unavailable for National pool training for the Asian Rugby Sevens Series, virtually putting a spoke in the wheel for Sri Lanka’s preparations for the three-leg tournament.

They are Anuruddha Wilwara, Danushka Ranjan, Nigel Ratwatte, Kavindu Perera and Tarinda Ratwatte, key members of the champion Kandy SC team.

“These key players have pulled out giving various reasons from injury to studies which is a pity. The irony is they are all from Kandy,” said Nazeem Mohamed, who is in-charge of the national men’s sevens programme, in exasperation.

“It has put us in a difficult situation. We wanted to have a combination of youth and experienced players. We brought in about four Under 20 players but at the end of the day results matter. It is going to be tougher now,” said the former Sri Lanka player.

“We have asked for their medical reports. We are going to assess their injuries and see how long they are going to be out because after the Sevens series we play the Olympic qualifiers in November,” said Mohamed, a vice president of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR).

Tharinda Ratwatte has excused himself because of studies while others cited injuries suffered during the Mercantile Rugby Sevens for withdrawing from the 29-member national pool which began training under National coach Matt Lee since July 24, according to Rohan Chinthaka, SLR’s High Performance Manager.

The three-leg Asia Rugby Sevens Series is scheduled to commence with the Korea 7s on August 31-September 1 in Namdong; China 7s from on September 14 and 15 in Huizhou; and Sri Lanka 7s on September 28-29 at Colombo’s Racecourse Stadium.

Chief rugby selector Rohan Abayakoon said they won’t be naming any replacements and manage with the remaining players in the pool.

Kandy SC’s rugby chairman Lasantha Wijesuriya blamed the scheduling of tournaments for injuries and non-availability of players for national duty. “There is no recovery time for players when they have to play two major local tournaments. Some of these players got injured at the Mercantile Sevens,” he confirmed.

“It is their personal choice to play for club or country. You can’t force anyone to play. It is their right,” said Wijesuriya refuting notions that the Kandy SC management was responsible for the decision of players to withdraw.

SLR deputy president Rizly Illyas felt it was similar to the situation Sri Lanka faced when Kandy SC’s Roshan Weeraratne and Sajith Saranga withdrew from the tours of Malaysia and Chinese Taipei respectively early this year.

“This has been happening for a long time. I always say 60-70% of our national players are from Kandy. Kandy plays the game in a highly professional level. The worst that can happen is the national selectors can avoid selecting national players from Kandy SC if they continue to do this. I mean we have another seven clubs. Last year we saw a lot of emerging players coming from the forces. They took part in Taiwan and they played well. We have to give them encouragement,” he said when asked about the vexed issue of club versus country.

SLR president Lasitha Gunaratne felt it may be a blessing in disguise to identify those who are unavailable in advance.

“You can’t force any player to come and play. If a player does it because of somebody’s influence it is bad. First it is not ethically right and he is not a man. I mean, if somebody is controlling his life, he is not suitable to be a rugby player,” said the former Sri Lanka forward bluntly.

“Sometimes if his heart is not there, I think pulling out before coming for training is okay. We can’t play him because he can be a bad influence on the side,” he added.

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