By Shamseer Jaleel
The Sri Lanka Rugby outfit under Omalka Gunaratne left to Malaysia yesterday evening. They will play two warm-
Former Trinity head Coach
New Zealander Matt Lee
up matches against the Malaysian National Sevens outfit on May 2 and 4. The touring party consisted of 32 players and three officials, with former Trinity head Coach New Zealander Matt Lee taking charge of the side. Matt Lee spoke to Daily FT before their departure to Malaysia.
Q: How did you arrive at the touring 30?
A: We were able to increase the squad to 32 from 30 with the support of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR), which is good, considering. This is a tour which will expose as many players as possible. Touring squad for the Asian Rugby Championship Division 1 will consist of 26 players, both the selectors and coaching staff are planning on a breakdown as follow of 14 forwards and 12 backs.
So for this tour 6 additional players have been selected with 1 prop, 1 back row, 1 fly half, 1 midfield and 2 backs. This will give us the opportunity to blood more players, as we need to be playing stronger competition regularly so that the Squad is used to the intensity and pace at the next level.
Q: The team building camp in Welisara was cancelled. Was it a big setback for the tour?
A: With the current situation in the country it was a no-brainer to cancel the camp at Navy’s facilities at Welisara. The camp was just to help gel the squad and make the players feel as they are contributing and forming our team values for the two tours. With the tour of Malaysia, we can gel and set our standards for the ARC Division 1 Tournament in Taipei with what we want to achieve both on and off the field. We will have a camp in Colombo prior to leaving for Taipei focusing and re-enforcing our team and individual goals for the tournament.
Q: How confident are you in meeting Malaysia in the XV’s, who are playing in the ARC Top 3 in 2019?
A: When you look at last year’s ARC Top 3 results, Malaysia struggled in terms of results but will have learnt a lot through the tournament. Hong Kong, Korea and Japan Rugby Unions have big budgets, so we need to be playing Malaysia at every opportunity. As long as the boys continue to be willing and open to learn from the coaches, then hopefully we can bridge the gap by providing them with the right skills and structure to compete at the next level, and have an opportunity to compete in Rugby World Cup (RWC) Qualifiers in the future.
Q: How was the support from SLR?
A: The SLR has been very active with organising a game recognising and supporting Chandrishan Perera, and our opportunity to tour Malaysia with 2 warm up games prior to our ARC later on in Taipei. The SLR Executive, Council and SLR Selectors have been supportive and having communicated regularly with our Management, Medical and Coaching Team in our lead up to training and during the training sessions so far.