By Shamseer Jaleel
The Sri Lanka Under-20 rugby squad which is to tour Malaysia next month was reduced to 32 players after two weeks of training led by Head Coach Nilfer Ibrahim.
Initially 39 players were selected after a game between a Colombo and Kandy team at Havelock Park. The majority of the players are from Isipathana College (8) and Trinity College (5). Former Royal College skipper, Nikila Gunadheera and Trinity College captain Rahul Karunathilake are in contention for the role of team leader, with both having played at the last junior rugby tournament in Hong Kong.
Ibrahim will have Terence Henry as his forwards coach on the tour to Malaysia. Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taipei will participate in the contest while at the same time in Division I, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will square off in Manila. “We have selected the best 32 players and the touring squad of 25 will be announced by the end of this month. The final squad members will not be allowed to play any club rugby matches after 1 December. The tournament will take place in Malaysia from 11-17 December and we have a very good chance of overcoming Hong Kong. If we end up as champions we will earn a berth at the Junior World Cup in Division II in Uruguay,” said Ibrahim.
The squad of 32 players comprises Vageesha Weerasingha, Adeesha Eshan, Kushan Indunil, Lahiru Wishwajith, Isuru Udayakumara, Gayan Wickramaratna, Harith Bandara, Ranidu Padmasanka (all from Isipathana), Supun Wijesooriya (Kingswood), Udaya Sanjula (Prince of Wales), Nikila Gunadheera, Ashok Wijeykumar (Royal), Nirosh Perera, Janith Laksara, Thanuja Maduranga, (Science), Pasindu Dulshan, Samuel Maduwantha, (St. Anthony’s), Rumesh Priyankara (St. Joseph’s), Ravin Yapa, Sandesh Jayawickrama, Ramesh Fernando (St. Peter’s), Dhanuja Wijeratna, Ashvantha Herath, Pandula De Silva, Naveen Henakankanamge (S. Thomas’), Rahul Karunathilake, Shalindra Alahakoon, Avishka Priyankara, Lashan Wijeysuriya, Anuka Boyagoda, (Trinity), Zayan Sabar, (Wesley) and Wajid Faumy (Zahira).