After an exciting 2017 Schools’ Rugby season, the next task for the youngest stars in the top level of local rugby is the battle in the Club arena. There will be further motivation for them to excel as there is an opportunity to be picked for the Sri Lanka squad for the Asia Under 19 Championship at the end of the year.
With this in mind, we at ThePapare.com have put together a probable XV who could start for Sri Lanka at the Asia Rugby Under 19 Championship.
Loose Head Prop
Trinitian Aveesha Priyankara is strong ball carrier and made some strong runs, battering his way through opposition defences during last season. He is also blessed with speed for a prop and will probably be the first choice going into the tournament. His top rival for the spot will be Himantha Hirushan of Royal College, who was an important cog in the Royal wheel last season. He is mostly a try scoring forward and his most important try came in the Bradby Shield earlier this year. Shamail Amif (Wesley College) and Tehan Senevirathne (St. Joseph’s College) will also be contenders for the position.
Hamza Reeza will most likely be the first choice going forward for the selectors as he had an excellent season for Royal this year and was a try machine for his team. An accurate thrower to the line-out, he also provided great support to his team-mates in the rucks. Sven Muller of St. Joseph’s College will also make a strong case for the Hooker position. He came to top form in the latter half of the school season with accurate line-out throws and strong runs. Hasiru Weliwatte of Trinity might be the other choice for the spot as he had a good outing this season but came second best in his battle at the Bradby against Reeza.
None of these players are currently playing for clubs.
Tight Head Prop
Ashen Fernando of Royal will make a strong case as he has displayed good technique when it comes scrummaging. Wesley’s Shamail Amif, who has been drafted by Havelock Sports Club this season, will have a shot at getting called in as he will gain some valuable experience in the club arena. Shaveen Ekanayake of Trinity and Wimukthi Gamage of Wesley will be the other competitors for the position.
Trinity’s Rishen Madena and Isipathana’s Sudeera Gayanath have arguably been the best locks of the Schools’ season. Rishen Madena isn’t currently involved with a Club but Sudeera Gayanath is in the CR & FC squad and will gain experience from playing in the big league making him the first choice candidate.
Wesley’s Shashika Ashan will likely be the first choice for the number 5 position. He is currently playing for CR & FC and is likely to gain valuable experience coming off the bench. Pasan Samarawickrama from Trinity and Sasitha Siyath of Royal will be the other competitors for the position.
Blind side Flanker
Umesh Jayamanna of Isipathana and Imesh Aponso of Wesley will battle it out for the position. Imesh Aponso will feature for CH & FC, giving him the edge over Umesh Jayamanna. DS boys Inura Samarawickrama and Gaveen Perera are contenders as well as they have joined the Navy Sports Club for a stint in the Club Rugby arena.
Open side Flanker
This position will probably be the only concern for the selectors as there are plenty of players but none who have really stood out in the schools’ rugby season. Isipathana’s Hasindu Shanilka and Royal’s Maleesha Madumewan will be the two strongest contenders while the selectors will keep a close eye on a few players who will look to impress in the Dialog Club Rugby League.
There are plenty of contenders for the number 8 position but the one who really stands out is Gihan Perera (St Joseph’s). A strong schools’ performance earned him a spot in the Havelock team for the new season. Also in contention is Mohommed Shabeer from St. Anthony’s College Kandy. Dharmaraja’s Tharaka De Silva has also found his way to the CR & FC team which puts them in contention as well.
This is the most debatable choice the selectors will have, with the likes of Harith Bandara (Isipathana), Avishka Lee (Wesley) and Anuka Boyagoda (Trinity), who have the playing skills, contending for the spot. Harith Bandara and Avishka Lee have joined CR and CH & FC respectively. The other player that will make a strong case is Heshan Jansen of Kingswood College Kandy as he is the second choice Scrum Half of the champion outfit Kandy Sports Club. This will add to his experience as he will get to train with a star-studded Kandy team.
Chathura Senevirathne (St Joseph’s), Randy Silva (Isipathana) and Stephen Sivaraj (St Peter’s) will probably be the considerations for the all-important No. 10 position. Senevirathne and Silva will feature for Havelock and Kandy respectively this season in the Club league. Lakshitha Ranaweera of Kingswood and Zayd Sinhawamsa of Zahira could get the nod as well if they do perform well for Kandy and Police respectively. Denister Goonathilake (Wesley) is the other Fly half in contention.
The selectors will probably look at the sevens team they sent to the Commonwealth Games to find the men for the wing. Sachith Silva (St Joseph’s) and Yuzraan Lantra (Zahira) are strong candidates for the position with Dharmaraja’s Dulantha Piyatissa and Pramuditha Hasaranga along with Sabith Feroz of Royal also in contention.
Dinuk Amerasinghe (St Anthony’s) and Warren Weerakoon (Trinity) along with Thulaib Hassen (Royal) were among the best first centers in the schools’ season. St Peter’s Theekashana Dissanayake will probably get some time at Havelock Club putting him in contention as well.
Janidu Dilshan (Royal), Sumudu Rankothge (Isipathana) and Awantha Lee (Wesley) are the best players that took the field for the season. Awantha Lee will probably make it to the squad as first choice given that Rankothge is out injured and he adds that extra kicking ability to the team as well. Also in contention are Bawantha Udangamuwa (Dharmaraja) and Jehan Seelagama (St Anthony’s).
Naveen Heenakankanamge (S Thomas’) and Diluksha Dange (Trinity) will almost definitely make it to the team. Henakankanamge went on to captain the Sri Lanka U20 sevens team, making him a strong contender for the 15’s captaincy as well. Dange on the other hand finished as the highest try scorer of the season. Nadeesha Chaminda of Isipathana is in contention for the position as well.
Chamod Fernando (Isipathana) was the best full back in the tournament and will almost certainly make it through to the squad. Diyath Fernando (St Peter’s) and Samuel Maduwantha (St Anthony’s) will be the other choices that will be considered. Samuel Maduwantha is a utility back so due to his kicking ability, he may make it into the squad as either full back or fly half. Maduwantha is currently the first-choice full back at CH & FC while Chamod Fernando plays at CR & FC.