Sri Lanka saw the cream of its rugby players turn out at the recent ‘Centenary Sevens’ and there seems to be much hope for the future when one analyses their performances. Chairman National Rugby Selection Committee Asoka Jayasena confirms this. ‘There is enough skill in these players to do well at the Asian Rugby Scene and they even have the potential to win a medal,” said Jayasena while speaking to Sri Lanka Rugby’s (SLR) official media site.
According to Jayasena foreign sides plan their matches against Sri Lanka taking into account more of the islanders’ weaknesses than strengths. ‘This has been evident in past tours, so we’re going to suggest that work must be done to improve on our weak areas. Much work must be done on the physical aspect of the game where the players come out into contact in the second and third phase moves,’ emphasized Jayasena.
For this purpose profiling of players is so vital. ‘In foreign teams one sees a small square fixed on the player’s jersey and this contains a unit that carries so much data about the player’s performance in the match that he just played. This is the technology that’s used today because there is so much a selector can watch from the naked eye and there must be other input for selectors regarding players,’ he said.
Jayasena took this opportunity to thank the SLR’s unit that maintains player information and added that a selector must be in a position where he can put some pressure on the player to make him perform.
Another area which he highlighted was some players performing exceptionally well in domestic tournaments, but really underperforming when wearing the national jersey and taking part in overseas tournaments. ‘We have taken a decision to leave out such players with a history of failing to perform overseas,’ said Jayasena.
He also underscored the importance of going ahead with the earmarked ‘high-performance programme’ for players and said that ‘much more can be planned once the national head coach is appointed’.
Jayasena said that he looked upon the Asian Games as a benchmark event for Sri Lanka rugby’s players because of the existence of a medal winning opportunity. ‘We don’t get that opportunity when playing in other world class events like Hong Kong Sevens. So our energies and efforts must be channeled in performing at the Asian Games,’ said Jayasena who had an illustrious 14-year career in both seven-a-side and fifteen-a-side rugby for the national side and also for Sri Lanka Police SC and later for Kandy SC. The Asian Games is scheduled in China this year in the months of September and October.
Jayasena said that the players unlike in other years have ample time to prepare for the Asian Games, but warned, ‘The overall performance however depends on the commitment of the players. Commitment is so vital when you wear the national jersey and represent Sri Lanka,’ affirmed Jayasena.
He also said that there is much focus on the Asian Sevens Series which is held in three stops where Sri Lanka has been a team that has produced some heart-stopping performances.
Meanwhile SLR is focused on appointing its coaching and support staff for upcoming overseas assignments.
The Caption for the above picture-Kandy SC's Lavanga Perera (ball in hand) in action against Havelock SC in the Cup Championship final of CR&FC Centenary Sevens at Longden Place
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