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Malta rugby league international Paul Marzella has been named in Malta?s rugby union squad to contest Malta?s upcoming Rugby Union World Cup Qualifiers where Malta will meet Denmark in a home and away series as part of Malta?s RWC qualifying route.
20-year-old Marzella, a 2004 Parramatta Eels Jersey Flegg representative has been released by his Burleigh Bears QLD Mixwell Cup side in what will be a continuation of a player exchange partnership between the Maltese Rugby League Association (MRLA) and the Malta Rugby Football Union (MRFU).
?It?s all pretty exciting?and a bit of a surprise!? says Marzella.
?I?d never really thought of playing Union for Malta?
Marzella initially qualified to represent Malta; a rugby league minnow, through the grandparent rule.
Malta lock Bradley Clews (Blacktown City) and Malta medical trainer Joe Clews (Penrith Junior Reps) instigated the partnership in January when Bradley Clews played four matches for Sharks in the Malta domestic rugby union competition.
The Clews? are convinced the part-timers in Malta?s rugby union competition hold nothing but promise for Malta?s rugby future.
?it?s all new to them, they?re all willing to learn and they listen straight to us?
?they?d take on rugby league? Bradley assures.
The Clews? 4 week reside in Malta posed a massive turnaround, both on and off the field for the cellar-dwelling Sharks club which is improving by the week.
?we scored 19 points in one game, that?s more points than they had ever scored? Clews chuckles.
?their coach was away for a few weeks so I ran them through a few drills from what I?ve learnt back in the Penrith Junior League?
??usually a forward but they threw me into fly-half, simply for some organisation because of my catch, pass & kicking game?
?I kicked a few penalties too?
Marzella is set to become the second dual-code international for Malta in only eight months following Malta rugby international Rohan Spiteri?s past experiences in holding down the fly half spot for Malta in past seasons.
A shoulder injury to Spiteri suffered in a trial match against the Canberra Raiders in February will prevent the two Malta Knights rugby league team-mates from taking to the field together for Malta against Denmark in Copenhagen on May 21st and then for Malta?s home leg on May 28th, but Malta?s National Rugby League head coach Joe Grima is quietly confident Marzella may turn the Australia to Malta trip into a regular occurrence.
?I?m sure they?ll call him back? says Grima.
?they?ll (MRFU) see what a gifted player Paul is?
?Paul possesses a good passing game and a tactful kicking game, including goal kicking?
Marzella has been named at number 3 and goal kicker, a position synonymous to the Malta international who left Parramatta Jersey Flegg to further his education.
?my goal kicking is something that I put a lot of effort into over the off season?
?I wasn?t kicking at my best last season but I?ve changed my approach and am now kicking back at over 80%?
?I?m still finding my feet back at Burleigh?I?ve scored six tries in the six games I?ve played and starting to work myself back into some good form?
His Burleigh Bears (QLD Mixwell Cup) teammates have already begun helping Marzella with the odd pointer on the game of rugby union.
?a few of the guys in the side have played union before and have been giving me a few tips on what to do?
Marzella played in Malta?s October 16 match against Fiji A last year and then was re-called to represent Malta at the Orara Valley and VB Sevens earlier this year before getting the call-up to represent Malta in Union, albeit at the cost of his 21st birthday.
?I fly out on Monday, which is my 21st birthday so my family has had to organise for my party to be pushed back a few weeks?
?With an opportunity such as this you just have to give it all you have? an excited Marzella tells.
Marzella leaves his Queensland residence for the two-match home and away leg series against Denmark, with the tie crucial to Malta?s qualification to the third round of RWC qualifying.
Malta National Rugby head coach Damian Neill is eagerly awaiting Marzella?s debut for Malta in the rugby code.
The MRLA?s vice-chairman Michael Borg is exuberant at the selection of Marzella, who becomes the second Maltese dual international for the two codes.
?The MRLA extends it?s congratulations to Paul in gaining selection. He becomes the second dual international after Rohan Spiteri?
?The MRFU had contacted us at short notice in search of a suitable replacement to fill a vacancy in their squad. This is an example of how the two codes can work together for the good of both games? Borg said.