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Sri Lanka field a strong team for Singer Rugby Asiad

The biggest event in the Asian rugby calendar - the Singer Rugby Asiad will be worked off at the CR and FC grounds, Longden Place and Royal Sports Complex from November 3 to 10, 2007.

Asia’s fourth ranked team Kazakhstan, sixth ranked Sri Lanka along with China, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Malaysia will battle it out for the Cup Championship while India, Pakistan, Qatar and Iran will vie for the Shield Championship.

It was 17 years ago that Sri Lanka last hosted the Rugby Asiad and the lankan team under the leadership of Priyantha Ekanayake came up with a marvellous display.

They went down fighting to Asia’s third ranked team Hong Kong by 13-21 in the curtain-raiser of the tournament and two days later scored a historic 9-6 win over Chinese Taipei and came up with a stupendous performance against the mighty South Koreans in their final Group ‘B’ match before losing by 16 points to 26.

The South Koreans went onto clinch the richest prize in Asian rugby with a 13-9 win over Japan in the final played at the Sugathadasa Stadium. This year host nation Sri Lanka has a golden opportunity of winning the Rugby Asiad in the absence of Asian heavyweights Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Lanka will confront China in the curtain-raiser of the Singer Rugby Asiad on November 3 at Longden Place and will take on Malaysia four days later (November 7) at the same venue in their last Group match.

Sri Lanka will field a strong team under the leadership of prop forward Jeewa Galgamuwa. The side is a blend of youth and experience and will be determined to come up with a sterling display as they will be playing in front of their home crowd.

Pen sketches of Sri Lanka team

*Jeewa Galgamuwa (Captain) - Prop forward 26 years old captained his school Kingswood College in 2002 and in the same year led the Sri Lanka youth team at the under 19 Rugby Asiad in Chinese Taipei. He has been turning out for Kandy Sports Club since 2003 and led them to a rugby double this year - the Caltex ‘A’ Division League and Clifford Cup knock-out tournament.

* Kishore Jehan - Prop forward. 24 years old. An old boy of St. Mary’s College, Chilaw, who started his rugby career with Old Zahirians Sports Club. Crossed over to Kandy Sports Club last year. Has been playing for Sri Lanka since last year.

* Shamil Mohamed - Prop forward. 24 years old. Turned out for Royal College from 2000 to 2002. He has been playing for CR and FC since 2003. First played for Sri Lanka two years ago.

* Senthil Kumar - Hooker who also can play as a flanker. 23 years old. Played for Isipatana in 2002 and 2003. Turned out for Navy in 2004 and 2005 before crossing over to CR and FC last year. Played a key role in CR and FC’s success this year with his accurate place-kicking.

* Achala Perera - Hooker who could also play as No. 8, 22 years old. Played for Kingswood College in 2003 and 2004. Has been playing for CR and FC from 2005 and donned the Sri Lanka Jersey against Kazakhastan in May this year.

* Sumedha Jayasinghe - Lock forward. 25 years old. An old boy of Dharmaraja College, who played for CR and FC in 2002 and 2003 before crossing over to Kandy SC in 2004. He has already donned the Sri Lanka Jersey.

* Senaka Bandara - Lock forward. 25 years old. An old boy of Maliyadeva College, who turned out for CH and FC from 2003 to 2005 before joining Kandy SC last year. He has been an automatic choice for the national team since 2005.

* Ashen Karthelis - Flanker. 23 years old. Who could also play as a lock forward. Captained his school S. Thomas’ in 2003 and has been turning out for CR and FC since 2004 and has been a regular member of the Sri Lanka team since last year.

* Imran Bisthamin - Flanker and lock forward. 22 years old. Captained his school St. Anthony’s in 2004. An excellent line out jumper and a tireless player in the loose who played a key role in the success of Kandy SC this year. He will be making his debut for Sri Lanka.

* Kasun de Silva - Flanker. 22 years old. Turned out for Wesley College from 2001 to 2003, captaining in his final year. Has been turning out for CR and FC since 2005 and played a vital role in the success of his club with his fiery loose play. He will be donning the Sri Lanka Jersey for the first time.

* Dushanth Lewke - No. 8, 24 years old. Played for Royal College from 2000 to 2002. Turned out for CH and FC in 2003 and 2004 before crossing over to Kandy SC in 2005. He got the much needed foreign exposure by turning out for Taranaki province in New Zealand last year.

* Sumedha Malewana - No. 8, 28 years old. An old boy of Vidyartha College who turned out for Navy from 2001 to 2005. Has been playing for CH and FC since last year and has already represented Sri Lanka.

* Amjad Buksh - Scrum half, 26 years old. An old boy of Kingswood College, who played for Kandy SC from 2002 to 2005 before crossing over to CR and FC in 2006. He has been an automatic choice for the Sri Lanka team since making his debut in 2003.

* Saliya Kumara - Scrum half, who could also play as a fly hald, 23 years old. Played for Vidyartha in 2001 and 2002 before crossing over to Trinity College in 2003. Played for Havelocks from 2003 to 2005 before crossing over to CH and FC last year. Played for Kandy SC this year and first played for Sri Lanka last year.

* Fazil Marija - Fly half who could also play as a centre. 21 years old. An old boy of Kingswood who played for his school in 2004 and 2005. Has been playing for Kandy SC since last year. He has been an automatic choice for the Sri Lanka team since last year.

* Ashan de Costa - Fly half who could also play as full back. 20 years old who captained Isipatana last year. Had the honour of playing for Sri Lanka as a schoolboy at Asian Games in Doha last year. He is a key member of the CR and FC team this year.

* Lasintha Kaushalya de Costa - Centre. 22 years old. Played for Isipatana from 2002 to 2004. Turned out for Havelocks in 2005 before crossing over to CR and FC in 2006. Played a key role in the success of CR and FC this year by scoring more than 15 tries. First played for Sri Lanka at Hong Kong sevens this year.

* Udaya Avantha Hettiarachchi - Centre. 27 years old. Played for Kandy SC in 2004 and 2005 before crossing over to CR and FC last year. He will be making his debut for Sri Lanka at the Rugby Asiad.

* Niroshan Karunanayake - Centre. 20 years. An old boy of Wesley College who turned out for Havelocks this year. He was a member of the champion under 24 team at Havelocks this year.

* Sanjeeva Jayasinghe - Winger. 28 years. An old boy of Science College who turned out for Havelocks from 1998 to 2001 captaining in his final year. Crossed over to Kandy SC in 2002 and has been playing for the Hill Capital Club since then. He first donned the Sri Lanka Jersey in 1998 and has been an automatic choice for the national team since then. Captained the Sri Lanka ‘Sevens’ team in 2005 and 2006. He led Sri Lanka against Arabian Gulf and Kazakhastan in May this year.

* Lakala Perera - Winger. 26 years old. Played for St. Peter’s as a fly half in 1999 and 2000 and then turned out for Havelocks from 2001 to 2005 before crossing over to CH and FC last year. He made his debut for Sri Lanka at the Dubai ‘Sevens’ in 2003.

* Radhika Hettiarachchi - Full back and Winger. 29 years old. An old boy of Dharmaraja College, who turned out for Kandy SC from 1998 to 2005. Played for CH and FC in 2006 before crossing over to CR and FC this year. He has been playing for Sri Lanka since 1998.

* Dinuk de S. Wijeyeratne - Full back and centre. Played for St. Joseph’s College in 1998 and 1999. Has been playing for CH and FC from 2000. He will be making his debut for Sri Lanka at the Singer Rugby Asiad.

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