Malta’s national rugby league team have assembled in Sofia ahead of Saturday’s test match against Bulgaria at Lokomotiv Sofia.
Head coach Roderick Attard has a 19-man squad at his disposal, two players of which will be omitted prior to kick-off.
The Maltese Knights squad, who are ranked tenth in the world, features ten players that ply their trade in Malta.
Eight players from the Maltese championship are joined by the return of Malta-based former captain Daniel Grima and forward Peter Debono.
The extended squad also includes four possible debutants in Malta-based Luke Musu and William Watts, Florida-based dual rugby forward Justin Davenport, and Reece Dimech – a Maltese champion runner and the brother of Malta Knights international Kaine Dimech.
Young firebrand Alfie Jewitt from Ackworth Jaguars makes his return to the Malta squad after missing last May’s comprehensive win over Montenegro.
Jewitt, 21, said, “I’m really looking forward to this game against Bulgaria after unfortunately missing out on Malta’s home game against Montenegro”.
“I love playing rugby, I love pulling on that red and white shirt, I love representing Malta. I can’t wait for this weekend”.
Barrow Raiders half back Jarrod Sammut is unavailable this weekend, but that has opened the door for the return of Cornwall’s Louis Singleton who makes his return to the squad after his debut appearance in the 35-34 win over Belgium in 2015.
Expected to join Singleton in the halves is the RAF’s Karl Cassar.
The incumbent Malta captain, Cassar said: “From the little we do know, we expect Bulgaria to be a strong, physical opposition and be a real arm wrestle throughout the 80 minutes. We’re counting on the full squad to chip in and come away with the victory”.
Also named in the 19-man squad, Daniel Grima joins coaches Roderick Attard and Anthony Micallef on the sidelines as one of the originals from the Maltese Rugby League domestic scene.
Coach Attard said its been a comfortable preparation for the Bulgaria test.
“We’ve had a smooth build up for this game. Players gave more time towards their fitness and I’m very happy with the bond between them”.
“We were near faultless in execution against Montenegro, if we can perform like we did in May, I’ll be very happy with the squad”.
“But this match is no different to always, we travel to dominate and to entertain our supporters that watch us over in Sofia and on the livestream”.
The international will be officiated by an all-Serbian team of match officials including referee Lazar Zivkovic.
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