The opening match in European Championship C will see Malta take on Greece in Melita on Saturday afternoon, the visitors on debut in official competition.
H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the President of Malta, will be presented to the teams and match official Serbian referee Radoslav Novakovic for an encounter that is expected to draw the biggest crowd for a rugby league game on the island.
Malta launched the game with a press conference at Hugo’s Pub in Paceville and although they will be without Jarrod Sammut, Matthew Mizzi from Australian side Central Queensland Capras has flown in to bolster the local talent.
The visitors, who arrive tomorrow (Friday) have included former Wakefield prop Michael Korkidas, who is currently playing for Dapto Canaries, in their squad for the game near Pembroke.
Malta coach Anthony Micallef is expecting a tough challenge. “We’ve had a different preparation this summer but it’s one we believe will bring the best results,” he said.
“We have a changing team since our last experience in European competition some years ago but more domestic players challenging is very healthy for the squad. It promises to be an exciting match up.”
Joe Paolella, who plays for reigning Maltese champions, Malta Origin RL can’t wait for the experience.
“It’s a great honour to have the opportunity to represent my country for a third time,” noted the 20-year-old. “The hype has been building for the last month and we’re all very excited for the game.”
Tasos Pantazidis, president of the Hellenic Federation of Rugby League added: “We are all very excited about our first match in the European Championship. We know that Malta has a much more experienced team, but we will try our best.”
Matthew Mizzi (Central Queensland Capras), Justin Barlogio (DC Slayers), Dylan Frendo, Jean-Pierre Zarb (Eagles RL), Andrew Muscat (Eccles Roosters), Christopher Parker (Gateshead Storm) (c), Danny Burke (London Skolars), Christian Briffa, Dillon Urry, Jeremy Dela, Joe Paolella, Peter Debono, Peter Ingham, Sam Keep (Malta Origin RL), Dragan Cerketa, Julian Caruana, Malcolm Attard, Matthew Spiteri (Stompers RL), Darren Edmunds, Graham Attard (Team Pit RL)
Giorgin Shyti (AEK Kokkinias), Aris Dardamanis, Nikolaos Kanellopoulos, Emmanouil Katalaktakis, Ioannis Roussoglou, Ioannis Valassas (Aris Petroupolis), Pandeleimon Arfaras, Stefanos Bastas, Nikolaos Bosmos, Mihail Chatziioannou, Michail Giorgas–Spanos, Konstantinos Kotiadis (Knights of Rhodes), Ioannis Nake (Pegasus Neos Kosmos), Panagiotis Karefilis (Promitheas Rendi), Adam Bouris (unattached), Michael Korkidas (Dapto Canaries), Terry Constantinou (Sunbury Tigers), Liam Sue Tin (Pine Rivers)