Poor turn out at practices worry rugby selectors

Shanghai International rugby Sevens
By Naushad Amit

Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) has called in a national pool of 35 players for the forthcoming Shanghai International Sevens but the turnout at practices has been poor. Many of the players are said to be nursing injuries soon after the completion of the Caltex ‘A’ Division league rugby tournament. The first couple of days saw less than ten players turning up for practices which got underway last week last week at Police Park.

An official of SLRFU confirming on the outcome told the Sunday Times that during the first week, soon after the completion of the league tournament it is hard to expect the entire pool. “It’s normal. The players work tirelessly for more than three months. Maybe the players are injured or too exhausted with continuous rugby. But it will be final call for the selectors which is in a way a tough ask at this juncture,” the official said.

With the Shanghai Sevens scheduled for August 27 and 28, the national selectors headed by former Sri Lanka winger Chandrishan Perera is experiencing probably the toughest of challenges being to pick the final 12 players who will tour China. Perera confirmed that they are facing the odds with a little number of players at practices. “Yes, we got an issue in the numbers. Initially we communicated with all club coaches but most of them cried off sighting injuries from the league and preserving players for the forthcoming knockout tournament. It’s been the same routine each time when Sri Lanka is expected to go out on an international assignment. It’s high time that the officials of SLRFU and the tournament committee sit and consider thoroughly on balancing the domestic and international calendar,” Perera said.

However the Sri Lanka Sevens squad is expected to leave for China on August 26 and the newly appointed coach Ellis Meachen, who replaced Imthi Marikkar, will have only a few days to conduct practice sessions before taking off. The final few trial matches will take place today in the morning at Police Park and chief selector Perera said his committee will have to go through these matches before deciding the next step.

“The schedule has been too tight for the players. We’ll have to see of the players who will turn up for practices and probably the usual big names will not be there. It’s been a little bit of question for the past few years. But it’s a major problem that needs to be sorted out very quickly,” he added.

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