Sandun Herath, Mubarak, four Royal players join Red Shirts | Sunday Observer

Sandun Herath, Mubarak, four Royal players join Red Shirts

17 November, 2019
Sandun Herath
Sandun Herath

In a fortune-changing move, onetime crowd pullers CR and FC have raked in a crop of promising ex-schoolboy stars and two exciting Sri Lanka exponents from Havelocks to lift their slumping ranks at the new inter club League rugby season which kicks off on November 29.

The entry offers new challengers to a team that came to be known as the Red Shirts but in recent years posed very little danger to their rivals.

Teaming up with the Longden Place club will be the gazelle-footed winger Sandun Herath and fullback Reza Mubarak, crossovers from Havelocks who will have a huge role to play in the revamped side that has also enticed former Royal College players Thulaib Hassen, Kalindu Nandila, Fadil Adahan, the schools best second row forward, and prop Dilshan Jayah who are all Sri Lanka youth players.

Another ex-schoolboy Musheed Zubair who captained Wesley College last season has also enlisted at CR following in the footsteps of his father Zubair Doray.

He could find himself playing as both fullback and centre depending on team plans.

But the club’s new coach, the former Sri Lanka captain and Number Eight Dushanth Lewke, has already made it clear that there will not be any quick-fix or miracle to raise the team’s image that made them second to none in a bygone era.

“We need to put a system in place and build a culture which is what I have to get right,”said Lewke whose credentials as a coach have never been in doubt.

One drive-point that Lewke will be enforcing is strictly adhering to attending practices on time and sticking to plans to reach their targets.

“Last season we had many stars in the team but we lost nine matches. This is certainly not the way forward and hopefully with a little bit of time we should get back to where we should be,” said Lewke.

Last season’s captain Kavindu Perera, place-kicking fly half Tharindu Ratwatte and Sumudu Rankothge have left CR to join Kandy SC while two other players Sven Muller and Charaka Chamikara have enrolled at Havelocks.

Their exit means Herath and Mubarak along with skipper and Number Eight Omalka Gunaratne will have to take on stellar roles in leading from the front with the entry of the club’s young guns.

“This could be our rebuilding season where we will have to take it match by match and keep moving forward and hopefully the senior hands can guide the youngsters,” said Lewke who coached Royal College to finish the season as League champions on two successive occasions in 2018 and 2019.

He was also CR’s Strength and Conditioning consultant at one time following a playing stint in New Zealand where he also qualified as a coach.