New Era: Malta v Japan

Malta and Japan are set to put up one considerable fracas at the Colosseum, the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.

Malta - the Knights, and Japan - conversely known as the Samurais, will meet in a rugby league international at the BCU International Stadium on January 25 but Malta head coach Joe Grima knows his limits.

"I don't know who or where the players (Japanese) are coming from" says Grima.

"(However) if you don't turn up to play, you will end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. This will be no different..."

"I remember seeing them last year and the crowd really encouraged them too, so we will have to deal with that also"

"Everyone loves the underdog tag", declares Grima who understands the Maltese will head into the match as favourites.

Grima has named four debutants in a seventeen man squad to take on Japan - and merely missing the squad were two Maltese based players.

Maltese based players and youthful exuberance are the beginning of a new era for Maltese Rugby League as officials arrive at a position in preparing for the path to the 2012 Rugby League World Cup.

"We're very excited to have five new debutants who will represent Malta in the upcoming friendly... who will be the new era for Maltese Rugby League"

"The new players will be relishing to play against the Japanese"

Finances prevented the selection of the Maltese based players.

"It is a shame as we really need to tap into the Maltese based players."

"It will promote rugby league in Malta and subsequently make our job of qualifying for the next World Cup much more attainable"

Yet the new era is heralded by Wests Magpies centre Tyson Muscat who burst onto the scene in Malta's October loss to Lebanon.

"...on debut (Muscat) and called up only one day before the match, was simply great - with his bursting offence and aggressive defence"

Players alike to Muscat will merge with local based Maltese players when the need to meet criteria for the next World Cup comes around.

Yet fresh from bowing out of World Cup Qualification, Japan will pose an exciting threat to the Maltese, only later this month.

Grima concurs.

"The Japanese are very humble people, but they always give 100%"

"It's in their make up and their culture"

Malta hope to exceed expectations in this year's Sevens tournament following their semi-final defeat at the hands of Lebanon in 2006.

"We've got some speed and possess a fair bit of skill. We will try to use this particularly against the top teams such as Lebanon and the Fiji Bati"

Malta: S Azzopardi, T Bonanno, R Borg, B Clews, S Galea, J Lateo, J Micallef, S Micallef, T Muscat, M Grech, W Grech, B Russell, B Sammut, J Sammut, R Sammut, D Spiteri, Z Williams