International rugby league will return to the stadium where it all started in 1908, and staged the 1970 World Cup final.
Belgium and Malta will meet at Headingley Carnegie, Leeds in a curtain-raiser to the round 19 First Utility Super League clash between Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC on Sunday, June 21.
Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington said the club is excited about bringing the RLEF sanctioned international to Leeds.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming the rugby league fans of Malta and Belgium and those with an interest in seeing the further expansion of the sport across Europe,” he said.
“I’m sure the Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC fans will create a great atmosphere and make it an occasion to remember for both nations.”
Belgium’s newly appointed head coach, former Junior Kiwis, Leigh and Oxford supremo Tony Benson says the international will be a test of their progress.
“We are working our way through an elite programme to develop the athletes of Belgium Rugby League and we see this as a significant signpost,” he noted.
“Our players are looking forward to experiencing the buzz of a big, famous ground at Headingley Carnegie. I’m sure the event at such a historic rugby league venue will bring out the best of us and be one we’ll never forget.”
Malta are hopeful of having their highest profile player, Wakefield’s Jarrod Sammut available for selection and their coach Anthony Micallef sees the match as the perfect warm up ahead of the team’s European Championship C commitments later in the summer.
He hopes to field up to 11 domestic-based available to show the growing strength of the sport on the island, and include Jeremy Dela who moved to England recently to link up with Birmingham Bulldogs.
Micallef commented, “The team wanted more fixtures and an opportunity to move up the international rankings.
“We are very thankful to Belgium accepting the match for what should be a great occasion at Headingley Carnegie.”
The international will be Belgium’s first outing since their 52-10 loss against Spain in Valencia and Malta’s first test since their 34-8 victory over the Czech Republic last July.
Sunday 21 June 2014
Belgium v Malta (Curtain-raiser to Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC, Super League XX Round 19)
Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds, England