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MALTA NAMES 42-MAN SQUAD AHEAD OF GERMANY AND NORWAY INTERNATIONALS
The Malta Rugby League (MRL) has named a 42-man train-on squad ahead of the 2011 European Shield tournament next month.
The Knights squad includes Crusaders Super League star Jarrod Sammut, the playmaker hoping to make his fifth appearance for the national team, while Penrith Panthers U20's pivot Justin Genovese is a debutant in the Malta squad.
Malta coach Anthony Micallef named six different halfbacks with Malcolm Attard in doubt and Roderick Attard not available until March 2011.
The squad is buoyed by Jarrod's availability and he will be very important for us. It works out well for all parties concerned that Crusaders have the week off the same weekend we take on Germany said Micallef, who will cut the squad down to 25 before competition begins.
Skipper Daniel Grima is labelled by Micallef as a high injury concern, leaving a hole among the Malta based players however laying a path for a new skipper if Malta's first domestic based captain cannot play.
Kept to the sidelines for the past four months the St Paul's Bay lock said Malta's players have been tested since their European Bowl victory over Norway last summer.
Our overseas based players are tested week in - week out, but we had the beating of our lives given to us by Lancashire and the boys know the standard of that team was quite strong. And the MRL Nines in January pit us against some strong English and Welsh opposition too explained Grima.
Malta will travel to Kaiserslautern for their July 23 meeting with Germany before returning for their home leg against Norway on September 2.
Malta XIII representative Vince Stivala and Kristin Baldacchino are among the new faces from the MRL Championship while domestic newcomers Gozo have been credited with having three players named.
Gozo player-coach Clifford Debattista, teenager Patrick Martin and Shan Hussain are all Gozitan players named in the train-on squad, the Gozitans have been busily training at Ramla Bay on Malta's sister island of Gozo from December.
Debattista said "We're working with a good group of players in Gozo. Our priority is to be a force in the MRL Championship and to see through the development of players from Gozo. At the same time, selection in a train-on squad is a credit to players that have impressed in Gozo"
Malta coach Anthony Micallef said "The squad is a thorough sounding out of players the MRL has in its sights for the competition"
"We're well aware that a number of these players will not be able to play due to their club commitments and on the other hand, there are a number of new faces in the squad that will be pushing for selection"
Jeremy Carruthers (Cabramatta); Paul Bartlett, Shaun Bartlett, Joey Davies (Cardiff Demons); Tom Cremona (Cessnock); Jarrod Sammut (Crusaders); Chris Parker (Gateshead Thunder); Clifford Debattista, Shan Hussain, Patrick Martin (Gozo); Daniel Schembri (Hammersmith); Michael Vella (Hull KR); Matt Mizzi (Lithgow); John Dimond, Mauro Miceli (Maltese Nines Selection); Malcolm Attard, Kristin Baldacchino, Jonathan Bonnici, Calvin Briffa, Mario Fountain, Tyson Freeman, Daniel Grima, Joss Howland, Mark Seychell, Vince Stivala, Matthew Von Brockdorff, Josef Zahra, Andrew Zammit Manduca (North); Justin Genovese (Penrith Panthers); Graham Attard, Peter Bradley, Matthew Camilleri, Clayton Cassar, Mark Cortis, Joey Criminale, Adon Formosa, Jurgen Pavanello, Daryl Psaila, Dario Schembri, Matthew Spagnol (South); Shaun Gilmour (Warrington Wizards); Paul Borg (Widnes St Maries)