Sri Lanka Field Strong Team At Asian 7s Series

Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) selectors on Saturday (29) named the final squad of the National Under-20 7s that will represent the country at the Asian 7s Series which begins in Hong Kong next Friday (4).  Sri Lanka, led by former S. Thomas' College skipper and high-flying three-quarter Naveen Henakankanamge, is slotted under Pool 'A' alongside Malaysia, Taipei, China and the Philippines.  Under Henakankanamge, Sri Lanka fields a strong team of 12 players, who has had continuous exposure of back to back high-profile 7s competitions held soon after the Schools Under-20 tournament. Sri Lanka are the defending series champs but according to Head Coach Sudath Sampath, the pressure of retaining the title has been taken off from the heads of the players.

"We have a well balanced side. The side has experienced campaigners in 7s rugby I must say. Most of them are after two legs of the Sri Lanka Super 7s, where there were top foreign players and the Mercantile 7s which ended last weekend. They have enough of exposure of the game and it's just a matter getting gelled as a unit, which we have been doing since naming the initial squad," Sampath stated.
 Last year Sri Lanka wont the Asian Under-20 7s Series title claiming 26 points in total after winning the first leg held in Johar, Malaysia and finishing second to Hong Kong in Kowloon.  South Korea were placed overall second with 22 points while Hong Kong finished one point behind at third.  Sri Lanka will have all the possibilities to defend their title given the fact of the recent form of the selected 12 players. Besides skipper Henakankanamge, Supun Dilshan, Chamod Fernando, Wajid Fawmy and Avishka Lee showed great potential at the Sri Lanka Super 7s Series. The squad has just retained one player from last year and that is Dilshan of Science College. The squad will fly to Hong Kong on Tuesday evening and by then the team will complete just seven practice days before taking wings. 

"What we really focused on was getting them together and what they have shown during this short time is really overwhelming. We are not aiming at retaining the title, but our total focus is on winning every game we play. That will provide us the needed background to the top and we have the total confidence in the team for that," Sampath revealed. Sri Lanka will take on the Philippines in their opening game on Friday at 1.10pm local time followed by matches against China at 4.05pm local time and Malaysia at 7.00pm local time. Their final group game will be against Chinese Taipei on Saturday at 11.28am local time before the competition moves into the knockout stage later that day. The Pool 'B' is made up with South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Uzbekistan. The two-day competition will come to an end on Saturday, August 6. 


Sri Lanka Under 20 7s Squad: Naveen Henekankanamage (Capt/S. Thomas’), Supun Dilshan (Science), Chamod Fernando (Isipathana), Adeesha Weerathunga (Isipathana), Ranindu Padmasanka (Isipathana), Wajid Fawmy (Zahira), Sandesh Jayawickrama (St. Peter’s), Theekshana Dasanayake (St. Peter’s), Suranga Bandara (Police SC), Lahiru Herath (CWW Kannangara), Avishka Lee (Wesley), Dinuk Amerasinghe (St. Anthony’s) 
Stand by: Chathura Seneviratne (St. Joseph’s), Thanuja Maduranga (Science), Ramesh Fernando (St. Peter’s)

By -  Sunday Times

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