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Sunday, 28 September 2008

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Youngsters are itching to give their best in RWC qualifying games

RUGBY: Youngsters who have got a deserved 'break' are itching to give their hundred per cent effort when Sri Lanka embark on their Rugby World Cup Asian Qualifiers games in Hong Kong next week, the team's head coach Nishantha Chanaka told Sunday Observer.

"This is one of the youngest-ever Sevens Squads that I have coached," he said. "In the absence of so-called seniors, these youngsters have got a desired 'break' which I hope they will use to maximum and bring glory to the country."

Nishantha Chanaka of Havelocks SC fame, said that if the players could put their mind to the job at hand, then his team is capable of making an impact in group matches against India and host nation Hong Kong. He stated that seeing off India would not be as much of a problem as they would encounter the more experienced Hong Kong team.

"What will really be tough will be the 'tie' against Hong Kong, but I feel, our guys with the amount of training and preparations done are capable of springing a surprise," he said rating our chances against the host nation. Chanaka noted that playing under the theory that there is nothing to lose, but everything to gain, will be the aim of his 'charges' and he was also quick to point out that the absence of seniors was a 'blessing in disguise', for younger players to make an impression in a prestigious international Sevens tournament.

"If the so-called seniors had been there, then most of these youngsters would not have got a break", he said, referring to the mass withdrawal of Kandy SC players over the appointment of Dushanth Lewke as caption of the national fifteens team. "Now, that they have got an opportunity it is up to them to show what they can do outside Sri Lanka."

Sri Lanka Sevens head coach added that in an ideal world he would have preferred more time for training sessions, but, agreed that in light of tight international schedules, his team had no other option but to confirm all its preparations within the space of one-and-a-half to two weeks.

Asked about input of two South African coaches roped in by the game's local ruling body (Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union) Dawie Snyman and Norman Laker, he said the duo had placed more emphasis on the aspects of tackling and on contact areas. However, with regards to other facets of Sevens, rugby, like speed, off loading, defence and fitness, Nishantha Chanaka was confident his team could hold their own even when pitted against more formidable opposition.

Two outstanding schoolboys - Sajith Saranga and Dinusha Chanthuranga were included in the 12-member Sri Lanka team chosen by the selection committee headed by retired Brigadier Jupana Jayawardene last week.

Chanaka spoke highly of the two young schoolboys from Isipatana MV and said their presence only goes to highlight the difference the infusion of youth could make to a national team.

Pradeep Liyanage's team has been drawn in Group 'C' for the tournament, along with hosts Hong Kong and India in the event to be worked off at Kowloon on Oct 4 and 5.

Nishantha Chanaka further said that the recent performance of Sri Lanka at the 2008 Singer SriLankan Sevens where they ended up as the fourth best team also was a positive sign that the country's Sevens fortunes were bright, but stressed that adequate preparation time and more experience were two vital areas which they need to have if they are to develop a side which could compete on a consistent level against foreign teams.

The Sri Lanka Sevens Team - Pradeep Liyanage (Capt, KSC), Dilanka Wijesekera (CH&FC), Amjad Bukhs (CR&FC), Wasim Thajudeen (Havelocks SC), Ashan Karthelis (CR&FC), Lasintha de Costa (CR&FC), Ashan de Costa (CR&FC), M. Sheriff (CR&FC), Saliya Kumara (KSC), Sajith Saranga (Isipatana) and Dinusha Cahthuranga (Isipatana).

The Sri Lanka Sevens team is due to leave for Hong Kong on October 2. J.K.

 

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