Sri Lanka despite fielding an inexperienced side is determined to give of their best at the Carlton Sri Lanka Rugby Sevens 2009 which will be worked off at the Sugathadasa Stadium from November 27 to 29, 2009.
The Lankan Sevens squad has been training hard for the last five days at the Royal Sports Complex and I am confident that they will perform well as they will be playing in front of their home crowd, said Coach Imthisham Marikar.
Marikar, the former Sri Lanka winger is taking great pains to mould them into a strong outfit with the help of Technical Advisor George Simpkin, the former National Coach of Sri Lanka, China and Hong Kong.
Three key players have withdrawn from the squad due to injury - Pradeep Liyanage, Saliya Kumara and Dushanth Lewke while Lasintha de Costa and Ravi Jayasuriya have not attended practices.
We have a few experienced players of the calibre of Ashen Karthelis, Dilip Selvam and ex-Sri Lanka Sevens Captain Chamara Vithanage in addition to talented youngsters Saliya Handapangoda, Nuwan Hettiarachchi, Dinusha Chathuranga, Samantha Lakshan and Chula Susantha and should be a force to be reckoned with at the Carlton Sri Lanka Sevens, said Marikar.
Marikar also said that the Sri Lanka team will be pitted against sides from Australia, South Africa, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand (who will be playing in the International Exhibition Tournament) in practice matches which will give them the much needed exposure.
Sri Lanka has been drawn into Group D along with mighty South Korea and lowly placed Pakistan. Asian heavyweights Japan are in Group A along with formidable Kazakhstan and Iran while Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Jordan will battle out in Group B . China will fight it out in Group C along with Malaysia and Brunei.
Three outstanding schoolboy ruggerites Roshan Weeraratne (Kingswood), Vishwamithra Jayasinghe (Isipatana) and Dharmaraja s Darshana Etipola who came up with a superb display in the Youth Rugby Asiad are also in the 16-member pool from which the final squad of 12 will be picked.
The Sri Lanka Sevens pool: Samantha Lakshan, Niranjan Wickremaratne, Nuwan Hettiarachchi, Suranga Pushpakumara, Chula Susantha (all from Navy), Ashen Karthelis, Dinesh Kumara, Dinusha Chathuranga (all from CR), Chamara Vithanage and Dilip Selvam (both from Kandy SC), Sharo Fernando (CH and FC), Saliya Handapangoda (Army), Roshan Weeraratne (Kingswood), Darshana Etipola (Dharmaraja), Vishwamithra Jayasinghe (Isipatana).