Malta will challenge for the ten thousand dollar 2005 Orara Valley Sevens, with the tournament providing good preparation for the 2005 VB Sevens in Sydney, Australia the following month.
MRLA Chairman George Tonna today confirmed Malta?s entry and is excited at Malta?s first big opportunity for the national team to be tested on a well and truly professional and international scale.
Malta will join the likes of international teams such as Lebanon, Fiji, Fiji A and the USA as well the remainder of the 40 teams competing in the two day tournament in January to be held on the east coast of Australia at Coffs Harbour, fielding a strong side and promising to give the well established nations more than just a run for their money.
?I?m very excited about the opportunity to participate in our first internationally recognised tournament, not to mention it being underwritten by Russell Crowe?
?Malta as a rugby league nation is in its youth, but this opening will allow us to expand both on and off the field? Tonna said.
Malta officials hope to field a strong team boasting ex Sharks? Ben Sammut who will lead the Knights with his skilled yet youthful chargers including Western Suburbs Magpies? Ryan Borg, Parramatta Eels? Simon Micallef and Malta rugby union international Rohan Spiteri and say a guest appearance by Mario ?The Maltese Falcon? Fenech can?t be ruled out.
?There?s always the chance that Mario will want to don the red and white of Malta? Tonna revealed.
Malta officials are also hopeful of meeting the tournament?s backer in celebrity Russell Crowe who has lived and experienced the lifestyle of the Maltese while filming Gladiator in Malta in 1999.
?Russell has a renowned relationship with the Maltese and it would be wonderful for the Malta Knights to meet the original gladiator? says Tonna.
Malta head coach Joe Grima will announce a 12-man squad by December 24 and is confident Malta will be well prepared for the tournament.
Former NRL hard man Mark Carroll will lead the Barbarians team throughout the Orara Valley Sevens tournament and has reportedly lined up some of the game?s best former players including Brad Fittler, Ryan Girdler, Mark Geyer, Jack Elsegood as well as himself to take the field that will surely provide for a spectacle over the two day event.
Malta?s sevens commitments will continue on February 12th when they test themselves at the revised edition of the former World Sevens, in the new format known as the VB Sevens to be contested at the Western Weekender Stadium in Sydney.