Air Force Sports Club rugby players plan to pull off some surprises this season

Meet the rugby clubs

By Indika Amarasinghe

Air Force Sports Club is expected to fly high this season after the sighing up of ex-national coach former Peterite Leonard De Zilwa as their head coach for the upcoming 2015/16 inter-club rugby season.

De Zilwa has already been impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and the passion his chargers are showing towards the game. He noted these factors as the reasons behind his decision to take up this coaching assignment with Sri Lanka Air Force.

The Airmen will once again be captained by hardy flank forward Pradeep Kurukulasuriya.  His deputy will be appointed mid way during the season.

There are four new faces turning out for Air Force this season. They are former Dharmaraja College and ex-under 20 Sri Lanka number eight Lochana Ekanayake, former St. Sylvester’s College second row Thilina Bandara and ex-Isipathana College player Pabasara Hewage and former Kingswoodian and full back Tuan Jaleel.

Air Force SC rugby team manager W.B.A. Janaka told The Nation that the whole squad has been playing together for the past four to five years and the players know each other very well a lot more than other clubs, hence the co-ordination between them is at a very highest level.

“We have four past captains playing for us this season. They are present captain cum flanker Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Sri Lanka national player centre Charith Senevirathna, Winger Suranga Arunashantha and Number eight Dinesh Weerarathna. We will give off our very best this season so look out for us. We will record some shock wins against top rank teams,” said Janaka.

De Zilwa said, “All the guys are well disciplined. This really amazed me. What I told them was don’t pressurized yourself, go out there and enjoy what you are doing and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t be a passenger in the side as this will kill our progress.

“When I took over there were many injuries to several key players, so what I did was I highlighted the importance of sticking with certain basics in the field and rectified the issue by fine tuning them. Now everything is under control and I’m really happy,” said De Zilwa.

He had this to say about the team’s match against Navy SC scheduled for Friday. “Since I was the Navy head coach last season I know them too well, so this time around trust me Air Force will go for the kill and achieve victory,” he said.

De Zilwa reminded this writer that Air Force beat Navy when the two teams met them last year at the Clifford Cup quarter-finals at Race Course.

Air Force rugby squad:

Amal Dassanayake, Dinesh Weeraratne, Jude Ranasinghe, Pandula Bandara, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Saumya Silva, Sampath Wickremasinghe, Prasanna Zoysa, Gayan Heenkenda, Pushpakumara Samarahewa, Donald Frank, Asanka Perera, Lahiru Weerasinghe, Rumesh Wasantha, Gayan Anuradha, Nadishka Perera, Suranga Arunashantha, Nalin Sirisena, Charith Seneviratne, Shaminda Udayakumara, Gayantha Iddamalgoda, Ranuka Medagedera, Buddhika Jayasinghe, Isuru Jayaratne, Suriya Krishan, Jero Dhananjaya, Kaushal Manuppriya, Ruwan Perera, Ranil Medagedera, Parakrema Ratnayake, Prasad Silva, Chathura Gomes and Lahiru Udayanga, Lochana Ekanayake, Thilina Bandara, Pabasara Hewage, Tuan Jaleel