Malta have regrouped after their 32-18 loss at home to Greece last month and have travelled to Czech Republic for this Saturday’s away leg of the 2014 RLEF European Championship C competition.
Malta coach Anthony Micallef named a 20-man squad on Wednesday that includes up to six new faces for Saturday’s stern away challenge in a bid to maintain its 22-in-the-world ranking.
Wakefield Wildcats halfback Jarrod Sammut comes into the squad however Micallef is adamant the Super League star won’t turn out for Malta following the Wildcats’ reluctancy to release their star player for a mid-season international.
On the domestic front, Christian Briffa, Julian Caruana and Peter Debono are two new faces expected to make their Malta debuts against the two-time winners of this level of competition – the Czech Republic.
Malta will miss two-try Stompers dynamo Malcolm Attard and team-mate prop Dragan Cerketa who were instrumental for the Maltese last month but Malta coach Anthony Micallef is adamant the team didn’t fail largely.
“The Greeks were very good and well led by their Australia based players, but to be honest, we weren’t that bad. We made five mistakes throughout the match, three of them at our end of the field, and you can’t afford to make those mistakes at this level of competition” said Micallef.
“To say we were 14 points worse than Greece is harsh on the guys, and I think they showed that in pulling back an 18-point deficit”
Micallef only concedes that he has had to make some changes to the squad, forced largely by unavailability of players due to injury and work commitments.
“We’re missing nine players from what we expected to have available. Saturday will be a big task for the guys but the guys know the hollow feeling we experienced in Malta two weeks ago, they don’t want that to happen again and I know they will turn up this Saturday”
Malta debutant winger Julian Caruana said he is looking forward to the Czech Republic test.
“We’re looking to build on the good aspects of last week’s game and to polish up on the mistakes, in order to make amends for that result by hopefully bringing a positive result back home with us”
“I’m relishing the opportunity to represent my country for the first time. I’m hoping I will be able to replicate my form for Stompers at this level, meaning I will have to channel my nerves into the right places”
The match will be live streamed at www.tv.hbnet.cz/ at 1900hrs CET.
Graham Attard (Team Pit RL), Justin Barlogio (DC Slayers), Christian Briffa (Malta Origin RL), Julian Caruana (Stompers RL), Sam Keep (Malta Origin RL), Danny Burke (London Skolars), Pete Debono (Malta Origin RL), Jeremy Dela (Malta Origin RL), Darren Edmunds (Team Pit RL), Dylan Frendo (Eagles RL), Peter Ingham (Malta Origin RL), Matthew Mizzi (CQ Capras), Andrew Muscat (Eccles Roosters), Chris Parker © (Gateshead Storm), Mark Portelli (Gozo RL), Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Wildcats), Matthew Spiteri (Stompers RL), Dillon Urry (Malta Origin RL), Ed Willis (Stompers RL), Jean-Pierre Zarb (Eagles RL)