Former Peterite and Havelock Sports Club player Dhanushka Ranjan is set to captain the Tuskers as they prepare for the 2016 edition of the Asia Sevens series that will kick off in Hong Kong this weekend.
The Asia Sevens Series is a three leg sevens tournament held annually to judge the best of Asia in the shorter format of the oval ball game. Sri Lanka finished overall fourth last year behind Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
The squad of twelve was named this evening for the 1st leg of Asia sevens series in Hong Kong on 2nd & 3rd September. The second leg will be played in South Korea on 24th & 25th September and the final leg & decisive leg will be down in Colombo. The 12-member team is expected to leave for Hong Kong tomorrow.
Danushka Ranjan will fill in the shoes of the regular Sri Lanka skipper, Sudarshana Muthuthanthri who has been sidelined due to an injury. Ranjan has been a fantastic player since he debuted in the Tuskers shirt. He is a very strong ball carrier and has been built a reputation in the Asia rugby circuit for his aggressive speed and agility.
Justifying the captaincy appointment, chairman of the national selection committee Michael Jayasekera added the following,
“Captain (Danushka Ranjan) of course one of the most recognized players on the circuit not only in Sri Lanka, his name is known and also feared throughout the Asian circuit and I don’t think there will be any dispute in naming him as the captain.”
Ranjan’s partner-in-crime Dulaj Perera will be the deputy for this tour who has recovered in time after being left out due to his knee injury. Dulaj made a huge impact in the recently concluded Sri Lanka Super 7s playing a vital role in the victorious Mobitel Eagles team that emerged overall champions.
Champion Under 20 skipper Kevin Dixon and vice-captain Omalka Gunarathne of has also being named to the team. These two players were outstanding in the concluded Asia U20 series. Trinity duo Sashan Mohamed and former Sri Lanka Under 20 captain Tarinda Ratwatte have also earned their way into the national squad and will wear the national sevens jersey for the first time.
Navy wing three-quarter Dinusha Chathuranga and his opposite number from Kandy SC Danush Dayan will provide the experience and pace to the side alongside Kavindu Perera of CR & FC. Saliya Handapangoda of Navy has received the call back for national duty having missed a few years in the national circuit.
The other important additions in this year’s team will be the Havelock Sports Club center Hirantha Perera who would be the main candidate for the Tuskers in the forward line with his height and will play a crucial role in winning the restarts from the kick-off. Former CR & FC and Kandy Sports Club’s newest additive Jason Dissanayake will be expected to play the other key role in the team with his sevens experience as he remains as an example for a player who was quick to adjust from XV’s rugby to the shorter format.
Meanwhile, Sevens sensation Srinath Sooriyabandara, Sudarshana Muthuthantri and Richard Dharmapala will be fit for the second leg but he likes of the senior men such as Fazil Marija, Nigel Ratwatte, Gayan Weerarathne, Anurudda Wilwara, Shehan Pathirana, Sandun Herath, Lavanga Perera, Kanchana Ramanayake, Rochana Hettiarachchi and Suhiru Anthony will remain uncertain for the series.
The Touring Squad
Danushka Ranjan (C)
Kevin Dixon (U20)
Omalka Gunarathne (U20)
Matt Turner – Coach
Rajeev Perera – Asst Coach
Rohan Chinthaka – Manager
Rehan Silva, Nishon Perera, Reeza Raffaideen (All U20)
The Women’s Squad
Randika Kumudumali – (Navy)
Sandika Hemakumari – (Navy)
Sanjeevani Wijethilake – (Navy)
Dasuni Silva – (Navy)
Niranjala Wickramarathne – (Army)
Ayesha Perera – (Army)
Nadika Munasinghe – (Army)
Pallikkondage Dulani – (Army)
Thilini Wijekoon – (Army)
Anusha Attanayake (Air Force)
Ayesha kaluarachchi (Air Force)
Charini Liyanage (Army)
Sudath Sampath – Coach
Dr. Piyumika Thilakawardane – Manager