After a two year long battle with injury, former Sri Lanka national cap Mithun Hapugoda made a fitting return to competitive rugby, in Havelock colours, in the opening match of 2019.
The Sri Lanka national sevens cap, Hapugoda has been an unlucky victim of a series of injuries in the past few years which has kept him away from the game for longer periods of time.
Hapugoda last represented Sri Lanka in 2015 in the sevens format.
“I have been battling with injury for a long period of time in the last two to three years and I am glad that I was able to make a comeback”
After a long-term knee injury, the 29-year-old featured in the inaugural edition of the Sri Lanka Super 7’s providing leadership to the SLT Mobitel Eagles. An injury in the 1st leg made him unavailable but the team emerged as champions in the tournament.
Later, he made his comeback in the Havelock SC colours in the 2nd round of the 2016/17 Dialog Rugby League but had to later sit back due to injury.
Leading the 2018 Dialog Axiata Sevens side at the Mercantile 7’s, Hapugoda took an average side to the cup finals against a star-studded Access Group side to finish runners-up in the competition.
Known for his speed and his nippy feet, Hapugoda rose to stardom soon after his schooling career at Mahanama College representing the Pink jerseys. He was also a part of Henry Terrance’s league winning Havelock SC side of 2013.
Despite him starting the opening games of the 1st round of the Dialog Rugby League of 2018/19, Hapugoda sat out the majority of the 1st round owing to not having complete fitness.
However, his return marks a significant achievement for the Pink jerseys.
The first game of the Dialog Rugby League 2018/19 round 2 saw Havelock Sports Club in full swing scoring a mammoth stand of 8 tries in total. Playing at number 9, Hapugoda scored a hat-trick of tries and later taking ‘ThePapare Player of the Match’ title.
“Excited to be playing in this Havelock side. There is a mix between young and experience and hope to see the next 6 games of the league with a win”
When the league kicked off, Havelock Sports Club was a team less favoured in the title race with a bunch of key players leaving the park club. Seven weeks later, the team has emerged to be a reckoning force with 6 wins losing only to Kandy in the 1st round.
The win against Army made it 7 with them collecting the first 50 point aggregate for the season.
What Hapugoda brings to this Havelock side is his experience in distributing the ball. Having represented Sri Lanka in both the fifteens and sevens format, the veteran’s inclusion gives the team a wide array of options.
Havelock, a forwards dominant team, shifted gears against Army and used the energy in the backline to good use.
Havelock has with them an equally competent backline and at many times they go underutilized but the second round is set to bring in change. With the former Mahanama College lad at halfback, he becomes the missing cog in the Havelock wheel who has been vested with the decision making for the side.
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If the Pink jersey’s manage to win all of their remaining games, Havelock will sit at a comfortable footing before they head to the super round that kicks off in late February.
“The idea is to go match by match. Hoping we can finish on top and then win the league just like we did in 2013”