THE Maltese rugby league community crowns its Miss Malta Knight for 2009 in Sydney.
PENRITH halfback Jarrod Sammut is doing his bit to help the development of Malta's domestic competition.
MELITA Sports to televise 2008 Rugby League World Cup into Malta.
INTERNATIONAL rugby league fever will visit the Western Weekender Stadium at St Marys when Malta takes on Lebanon on October 8 for the self professed Battle of the Phoenicians.Lebanon- who begin their qualifying course for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup only weeks later will make their first international appearance since their 42-14 defeat of France in the 2004 Mediterranean Cup in Tripoli.Lebanon hasn?t played a rugby league international in Sydney since they met a French Invitational touring team led by Paul Sironen in front of a 20,000 strong crowd at Telstra Stadium in 2001.Malta?s last appearance saw a historic 36-6 victory over the England Lionhearts at Marsa Stadium in what was the first official fixture of rugby league on Maltese soil.The Battle of the Phoenicians is set to attract a bumper crowd with Maltese and Lebanese migrants holding a strapping presence in Sydney?s multicultural community.Malta head coach Joe Grima has earmarked several NRL stars in his preliminary squad for the Mediterranean backed international including the Parramatta Eels? Michael Vella and Sydney City Rooster Shane Shackleton.NRL starters Hazem El Masri and Robbie Farah have both pulled on the Lebanese jersey in the past, yet this match will see Vella and Shackleton complete a first for Malta- an emerging rugby league nation.St George-Illawarra Dragons hooker George Ndaira has been sounded out as a possible starter for the Lebanese Cedars.Shackleton will finally achieve his Maltese representative honours after becoming a last minute omission last year following a decision by Roosters coach Ricky Stuart for the Roosters to begin pre-season training early.?I was so filthy I didn?t go to Malta last year? says the ginger haired Shackleton.Malta?s head coach is Parramatta Eels official Joe Grima and Grima is well aware of Lebanon?s well-built line-up, ?They?re (Lebanon) a very skilful side who possess great speed, mixed with their size and strength and are coached at a very high level?Officials for the Maltese and Lebanese rugby league governing bodies are expecting a capacity crowd at the Western Sydney venue, the Western Weekender Stadium.Photo: Malta?s Paul Harris and Lebanon?s Mohamed Chahalc/- PJ Robinson
PARRAMATTA Eels? Michael Vella and Sydney City Roosters? Shane Shackleton will lead Malta for the first time in two rugby league internationals later this year.Ranked inside the top five in international rugby league rankings, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) national residents team will face Malta in Port Moresby following the Maltese? match against Italy A one week earlier in Sydney.Malta?s classy back line that includes a host of NRL Premier League talent will be boosted by the two NRL forwards who will make their international debuts for the emerging nation, ranked 15th in Europe by the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF).Maltese Rugby League Association chairman Mark Sultana says the availability of the two forwards for the respective matches will be a welcome advantage against the Italians who beat Greece 58-14 in their last international and against PNG Residents who will be an dictating force in Port Moresby.?We?ve received written confirmation from the Roosters that Shane is making himself available to play in both matches. So I dare say he is a definite to play.? Sultana says.?He?s (Shackleton) absolutely busting to play for Malta??Mick?s (Vella) a true gentlemen in every sense of the term and loves being involved with the Malta Knights. I?m looking forward to him pulling on the red and white jersey and not the trainer?s blue shirt?Sydney City Roosters? Shackleton was a late omission from Malta?s line up to take on Greece and England Lionhearts last October as Roosters coach Ricky Stuart trained the Roosters forward for the weeks following the NRL?s season end.Shackleton has since made his starting debut for the Roosters and retained his spot in the forwards before suffering a shoulder injury two weeks ago.Matt Gafa, playing at Harlequins RL (formerly London Broncos) in the English Super League has also indicated his availability to play in the two post-season internationals. Gafa will add to a sizzling Maltese back line.Ex Cronulla Sharks fullback Ben Sammut will skipper Malta in the two internationals.
MALTA?S rugby league talent was on firing display at the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens, completed over the recent weekend at Coramba Sportsground, near Coffs Harbour on Australia?s east coast.With supporters travelling en masse to the Australia?s premier rugby league sevens tournament, Malta dazzled its opponents throughout both days, kicking off the tournament in convincing fashion with a 28-22 win over 2007 NRL newcomers, the Gold Coast Titans. Brad Clews opened the weekend?s try scoring displays with a stepping charge, beating Titan?s John Dean to put on the first scoring play. Parramatta Eels Simon Micallef and Penrith Panthers Jarrod Sammut opening their try scoring accounts, both crossing for a double. Completing the opening day, Malta scored an aggregate of 32 points positive, in pushing aside local A grade outfit Crescent Head Roos and then an under strength Australian Maoris.Orara Valley Axemen Rugby League Club chairman Glen Soper revealed that more than 15,000 spectators had contributed to the city?s big week of league, with Malta continuing its successful march into the Sunday finals.Malta out muscled the Sydney Bulls to qualify for the quarter final, the Jim Beam Cup outfit falling to the might of the Malta Knights by 34-26, after the days preceding saw Malta take centre stage with the naming of three players in the tournaments international team of the tournament. Malta skipper Ben Sammut joined Simon Micallef and Jarrod Sammut in taking the honours.After a convincing round of results, Narwan Eels were provided a 30-8 rugby league sevens lesson by one of the tournament?s Mediterranean heavyweights.Malta then met Lebanon for the ultimate sevens match up between the Mediterranean nations, the match delayed for 45 minutes as former NRL livewire Wes Patten led a protest to dispute a previous refereeing decision. Hollywood actor Russell Crowe became a mediator in settling the disagreement, which posed a threat to tarnishing the magnificent tournament in the final hours.Malta and Lebanon later returned to the field for the eagerly awaited semi final contest. Wests Magpies? Pat Galea also taking the field, albeit with a broken hand suffered in the opening match of the tournament.Lebanon played the perfect game of sevens rugby league and with all credit due, edged out Malta by 32-26.Malta placed third, a marked improvement from the fourth place finish of 2005.Lebanon went on defeat Fiji and become back-to-back champions of the Orara Valley Sevens.Further to the haul of awards, Malta?s newest debutant Jarrod Sammut took out the tournament?s top point scorer award with a tally of 38 points.Despite the class shown throughout the finals, the hosts awarded Malta?s Daniel Spiteri with the tournament?s player of the finals, capping off another triumphant appearance and further promoting the thriving energies of Maltese rugby league.Ex NRL and Super League star Ben Sammut, skipper of the Malta Knights received the highest of accolades when presented as the overall player of the tournament by the host club, for the second year in succession.Ubeeco?s Joe Borg presented the Maltese Rugby League Association?s internal player of the tournament award to Simon Micallef and praised the MRLA?s efforts towards the prosperous weekend.In scoring 38 points over the weekend, Jarrod Sammut also received the MRLA?s top point scorer award.2006 Orara Valley Sevens Player of the TournamentBen Sammut (Mlt)2006 Orara Valley Sevens Player of the Finals Daniel Spiteri (Mlt)2006 Orara Valley Sevens Top Point scorerJarrod Sammut (Mlt) 38 Points2006 Orara Valley Sevens International team of the TournamentBen Sammut (Mlt)Jarrod Sammut (Mlt)Simon Micallef (Mlt)2006 MRLA Orara Valley Sevens Player of the TournamentSimon Micallef (Mlt)2006 MRLA Orara Valley Sevens Top Point scorerJarrod Sammut (Mlt) 38 PointsDAY OneGroup AGame 1Malta 28 (S. Micallef 2, J. Sammut 2, J. Micallef, Clews tries; J. Sammut, Clews goals)defeated Gold Coast Titans 22Game 2Malta 30 (J. Sammut 2, D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, B. Sammut, B. Russell tries; J. Sammut 2, B. Sammut goals) defeated Crescent Head 16Game 3Malta 26 (S. Borg, S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, P. Marzella, P. Galea tries; S. Borg, S. Micallef, P Marzella goals)defeated Australian Maoris 8Day TwoRound of 16Malta 34 (D. Spiteri 2, S. Borg, S. Micallef, P. Marzella, J. Sammut tries; S. Borg, S. Micallef, P Marzella, J. Sammut 2 goals)defeated Sydney Bulls 26Quarter FinalsMalta 30 (J. Micallef 2, S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, J. Sammut, N. Attard tries; D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, J. Sammut goals)defeated Narwan 8Semi FinalsMalta 26 (S. Micallef, D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, J. Sammut, W. Grech tries; D. Spiteri, J. Micallef, W. Grech goals)lost to Lebanon 323v4 PlayoffMalta won on forfeit vs Auburn Warriors
KNIGHTS and Titans will do battle in fourteen dynamic minutes of rugby league action to kick off the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens at Coffs Harbour this weekend, January 28 and 29.With two international fixtures ultimately kicking off the Orara Valley Axemen Big Week of League on January 26, it will be the Malta Knights and the Gold Coast Titans that kick off the two-day Sevens carnival, underwritten by resident local and Hollywood star Russell Crowe.History beckoning, the Titans who will make their entry into the NRL competition in 2007 are fielding a squad jam-packed with players from the Gold Coast?s elite academy as well as QLD Cup talent that includes captain and ex Penrith Panthers back rower Matt Pow leading out the Titans for the first time.Maltese Rugby League will enter the code?s history books for the second time in only three months, as the first up opponents to the newly formed Gold Coast, who are being represented under the ?Titans? banner for the first time. Titans? head coach John Cartwright isn?t denying the excitement leading up to this weekend.?There is enormous excitement from within the Titans club about this Sevens tournament. I think it?s a close realization from all the people who have worked so hard on making this club a reality of how close we are to 2007? said Cartwright.Cartwright isn?t expecting miracles in the Titans? first outing.?It?s very hard to go into a Sevens tournament expecting to win. That?s the appeal of the game, its fast, open and gives all sides a chance?Opening the tournament against the Malta Knights before taking on Crescent Head and the Australian Maoris, Cartwright is using the budding sevens tournament to test his players who are challenging for roles in the club?s approaching NRL return in 2007.?It?s basically an opportunity to get some of our good juniors together and see how they perform against more experienced opposition? Cartwright said.Ten of the fifteen players selected in Malta?s sevens squad were members of a history making rugby league tour to Malta 12 weeks ago, taking on the England Lionhearts, selected from England?s amateur rugby league conference competitions. Malta defeated England 36 to 6.Newcastle Knights premier league utility Daniel Spiteri was consequently sent off in the third minute of the historic encounter after tensions simmered in the international friendly on a muggy 30-degree plus afternoon.Evenly, Ashley Klein, the Engage Super League 2005 referee of the year dismissed Spiteri and his opposite number Lionhearts? Brendan Lewis as well as placing a further member of each team in the sin bin.Spiteri is adamant that his return for Malta at the Orara Valley Sevens will bring a positive bang.?People insist on bringing up the darkest moment in my footy career. It was very disappointing and won?t happen ever again??Is the pope a catholic? There is more fire in me then the sun itself, controlled though, no send offs this time!? Spiteri assures.Spiteri, who has been granted a release from the Newcastle Knights, is motivated to play to his best at the Orara Valley Sevens, granted there will be scouts from several NRL clubs about.?Huge incentive, all you have do to is look of likes of Benny (Sammut) and Clewsy (Brad) and you see what playing at the top level does for you, to be earning a huge salary and doing it by playing footy which is something you love would be great? said Spiteri.Only weeks before the fateful match, Spiteri was the instrumentalist in a last second try that helped Malta to a 24-22 win over Greece in Sydney, dashing sixty metres to bring the pro Maltese crowd into raptures.?The try itself just proved his evasiveness? ?He was positioned on the left wing and scored on the opposite (right hand side) of the field? Malta coach Joe Grima said.South Sydney Rabbitohs have named flying winger Luke MacDougall as captain in a line-up selected from throughout the foundation club?s grades, jersey flegg to first grade.Drawn into the same group as defending champions Lebanon, Fiji A has listed former Tigers NRL star James Langaloa in their 15-man squad.Malta Knights sevens squad:N Attard, S Azzopardi, S Borg, B Clews, P Galea, A Grech, W Grech, P Harris, P Marzella, J Micallef, S Micallef, B Russell, B Sammut (C), J Sammut, D Spiteri.2006 Orara Valley Sevens TournamentSaturday 28th January (Day One)9:00am MALTA vs GOLD COAST Titans10:40am MALTA vs CRESCENT HEAD Roos11:40am MALTA vs WAIRERE AUSTRALIAN Maoris The Maltese Rugby League Association, a voluntarily run organisation whose main source of income is the retailing of their popular merchandise range which includes replica jerseys, polo shirts, t-shirts, caps and dvd?s. During the Orara Valley Sevens, supporters have the opportunity to purchase the Malta Knights jersey at a special price of only $75.Related links:http://www.malteserugbyleague.comwww.oraravalleyaxemen.com
WHETHER it was the welcoming nature of the Coffs Harbour locals or that of the helpful committee of the Orara Valley Axemen Rugby League Club. Hollywood celebrity Russell Crowe?s pose in the ?Malta? rugby league jersey prior to their quarter final clash against the Sydney Metro Aboriginal All-stars, or the unanticipated fourth placing in their inaugural Sevens tournament, the fledgling governing body for Maltese Rugby League will return to the Coramba Sportsground for the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens tournament with only one main concern.One year stronger, on the back of a successful groundbreaking tour to the Maltese Islands where locals took in the novelty of a sport previously unknown to the Mediterranean island nation and with the addition of a number of fresh and upcoming faces to their impressive playing roster; the Malta Knights return to Orara Valley primed to put up an admirable challenge for the $10,000 first prize.Maltese Rugby League Association (MRLA) chairman Michael Borg is adamant the snowball effect of success in the MRLA?s historic first years within Australia is a major lever in controlling the future of rugby league on the Maltese islands.?It is the major factor??Due to mass migration from the 1950's onwards, there are thousands of Maltese or people with Maltese descent living in Australia, thus as a result practically every Maltese has a relative living in Australia and has strong connections with Australia? explains Borg.?? the success of the Australian-based MRLA made up of Maltese-Australians passionate about the game of Rugby League and keen to promote the game in Malta itself is vital to the establishment of Rugby League in Malta?Last year, the Malta Knights commenced their ?sevens? proceedings by gaining maximum points on the first day, before knocking out one of the tournament favourites, Fiji.Parramatta Eels SG Ball head coach and Malta Knights mentor Joe Grima describes the win as a major boost in belief for the Maltese team.?It was important. All the talk was about the Fijians and when we (Malta) put our hearts into it, we came out trumps. The Fijians were really disappointed and we used that?MRLA chairman Michael Borg attests it?s not only the players that rate Joe Grima as a passionate and innovative coach and backs the Malta Knights instructor to take them all the way in 2006, which would be a welcome monetary boost to the rugby league body on the Maltese islands itself.?absoloutely!...Joe is one of the most passionate people you will ever come across. He's developed a good rapport with the players and as a result the squad that went to last year's sevens had good camaraderie and simply went to enjoy themselves in a carnival atmosphere that is the Orara Valley Sevens??A non-profit and voluntary organisation such as ours would use the much-needed funds to direct towards development of the game in Malta? Borg confirmed.Malta eventually bowed out of the race for last year?s first prize after a golden point second half try which saw Malta go down 36-32, after Malta led 32-18 a minute into the second half of normal time. Nevertheless, the new boys on the block gained a whole lot of support from their inaugural appearance at the tournament, as well as experience that will see them return to Australia?s richest ?sevens? tournament with their eyes on nothing but the silverware and prize money on up for grabs on the Sunday afternoon, but coach Joe Grima is reserved in his expectations.?the competition is going to be much stronger this year than last, I?m not going into the tournament expecting to qualify for the Sunday(finals) games??We?ve got plenty of speed and enthusiasm in what is a youthful side yet we?re going up there with a lot of supporters. In having some fun, we?re going to display the skills and sportsmanship of the Malta Knights (MRLA)? tells Grima.The Maltese side won?t be led by Grima all weekend however, with Grima handing over the Saturday duties to assistant coach Tony Farr, due to Grima?s commitments with Parramatta Eels.Farr has been on the coaching panel from day one of the MRLA?s venture and recently added to his already sparkling resume, a pioneering tour to Malta where Malta defeated the England Lionhearts 36-6 at the Marsa Stadium in Malta.A well-respected figure within rugby league circles up to the highest level for the past twenty-five years, Farr will guide the young Maltese chargers through their day one pool matches.Equal top point scorer from last year?s tournament, Parramatta Eels' Simon Micallef will return again to represent Malta; as will 2005 Player of the Tournament and ex NRL star, Malta Knights skipper Ben Sammut.While the Eastern Australian state of NSW is well represented with Maltese talent, QLD doesn?t go unnamed with Mackay Brothers? Brendan Russell and Burleigh Bears? Paul Marzella forming part of the backbone in Malta?s back line that boasts an array of youth and speed that will key up with a wise but mobile pack of forwards that includes Wests Magpies premier league forward Pat Galea.Debutants in the red and white kit of the Malta Knights are Nathan Attard and Jarrod Sammut, both products of the Penrith Panthers junior rugby league nursery.Related links:www.malteserugbyleague.comwww.oraravalleyaxemen.com
THE Maltese public has been treated to a professional display of rugby league in all facets of the game at Marsa Stadium this afternoon where the home side, the Malta Knights defeated England Lionhearts by 36 points to 6.
MALTA rugby league head coach Joe Grima has included Maltese local Robert Bonavia in the 18 man squad to take on England in this Saturday's Rugby League International Friendly at Marsa Stadium.