Overseas players were an integral part of Sri Lanka Rugby during the 1990’s when they first came to the country to play in our club league. The inclusion of foreign blood was re-instated in 2012 when the Dialog Rugby League opened doors for players from other nationalities to play for local clubs.
When the country opened doors for the overseas, the local clubs had the privilege of scouting for top talent and a top breed of players were soon seen in club colours. Many of the players who made it to Sri Lanka later went on to achieve greater heights in the sport.
Here’s a look at a few of those players who were involved in the Sri Lankan domestic scene who have gone on to bigger things.
Chris Cloete (Kandy Sports Club)
Chris Cloete is a South African rugby player who has represented the South Africa A team on many occasions. Cloete usually plays at the flanker position but at times is seen at the back of the scrums as a No. 8 as well.
Cloete, was a well-known name all across Sri Lanka in the year 2015 as he represented Kandy Sports Club in the Dialog Rugby League 2014/15. Donning the #7 jersey, the South African was pivotal in Kandy’s success story in winning back the league that year.
Cloete ended up as the highest try scorer in the league and was undoubtedly one of the most skilled and talented players that the Dialog Rugby League had witnessed.
Getting a breakthrough after the Sri Lankan episode, Cloete made his way to the Pro 14 League as he now represents Munster. Regardless of the change in jerseys, he continues to play his own blend of rugby and is surely grateful for the Sri Lankan breakthrough that shifted dimensions in his career.
Oscar Ouma (Kandy Sports Club)
Midway through the 2014 season, the Kandy team saw the inclusion of the heavily built Kenyan sevens representative Oscar Ouma in their loose forwards. Making the trip from the African continent, the 24-year-old fitted into the Kandy lineup perfectly, adding extra pace and power.
His break in Kandy colours brought in new hope for him in the sevens circuit as he was picked for the 2014 Commonwealth Kenyan Sevens side and later was a part of the 2016 summer Olympic Games.
Ouma recently gained a lot of attention when he put down the All Blacks super star Sonny Bill Williams at the 2016 Olympic Games. He is currently playing for the Top Fry Nakuru RFC in the Kenyan Rugby League.
Oscar came down to Sri Lanka this year for the Sri Lanka Super 7’s, playing for the Walkers CML Vipers.
Setefano Cakau is a Fiji Sevens sensation who is a well-known across the world, especially in the sevens circuit. He has represented Fiji at the World Sevens Series in 2010 and also captained the Fijian team on many occasions.
Cakau was first seen in the 2012 Carlton Super Sevens, where he represented the Jaffna Challengers. Later that year he was headhunted by Navy Sports Club and went on to strength the Sailors at center.
A disruptive force in the center position, Cakau’s inclusion saw the Sailors lift the Dialog Rugby League title in the year 2014 under the captaincy of Rohitha Rajapakse.
Setefano Cakau was a part of the Mobitel Eagles team in the Sri Lanka Super 7’s 2016, and came back to Sri Lanka earlier this year for the Access Kings in the Super 7’s 2017 which was his last known involvement in the field of rugby.
David Halaifonau is a Tongan rugby player who has represented the Tonga National team in many international tournaments. He was also a part of the Tonga national team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Halaifonau made his debut for Kandy Sports Club in 2014 in which he strengthened the team as a Fullback and at times as a Winger. Halaifonau was a prolific three quarter, he brought in so much strength and speed to the Champion Kandy SC outfit with his dashing runs and skills with his highball and stepping abilities.
Halaifonau currently plays for Gloucester Rugby in the Aviva Premiership and for the Tonga national team. He starred at the Aviva Premiership last year and has been good this year as well.
Fa’atonu Fili is a New Zealand born, Samoan National rugby player. Fili represented the Samoa National team at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He also represented the Wellington Lions in the Air New Zealand Cup.
Fili was recruited by Kandy Sports Club in 2013 to strengthen the team with his exceptional kicking and game-controlling abilities at the fly-half position. Although Fili’s stint in Sri Lanka was short-lived, he surely startled the fraternity at Nittawela with his agility, playing at flyhalf for Kandy.
Fili last represented the Wellington Lions once again as he left Sri Lanka and is currently on a break from rugby- spending time with his family.
Good night last friday thanks for the pic afa. pic.twitter.com/ttUqiDiMpu
— Fa’atonu Fili (@FaatonuFili) July 22, 2014