Malta Rugby Union prepare for two upcoming rugby internationals at UK camp

Friday, November 1, 2013, 16:55

Malta Rugby Union travelled to the United Kingdom yesterday to prepare for two FIRA European Nations Cup Division 2A matches; away to Lithuania on Saturday November 2 and then home against Croatia on November 9 at Hibs Ground. The squad are preparing at Colerne military base outside of Bath and includes four new locally-based players. The team fly to Lithuania on Thursday feeling very positive for the two upcoming encounters according to Team Manager Steve Busuttil and local player Sam Borg.

 

Malta Team Manager Steve Busuttil is under no illusions about the challenge facing the squad over the next two weeks, with Croatia being a formidable test at home for the Maltese at this early point in the pre-season, he says, “National Team Coach Damian Neill would have preferred to prepare here in Malta for both games, however, we have been hampered this time around with access to facilities and pitches. We would rather prepare the players here in Malta, as all our sessions from here on in are attuned to the gameplan. That said, we are preparing well and pleased to see new faces in the squad such as John Ellul who gets his first cap and Rhodrie Apsee, as well as Kaine Dimech.”

 

Damian Neill’s Malta side are struggling with injuries to established players such as Clayton Cassar, brothers Tom and Rob Holloway are ruled out and Luke Watts is doubtful. Four new local players join the squad at Colerne, Brandon Busuttil and Daniel Delia, Christian Borg and Luke Debattista. The good news is that Oliver Sacco is available and James Kirk is back from injury along with Mark Davey, whose brother Tom Davey also joins the squad in the UK this week.

 

Malta player Sam Borg says that the Malta camp being held in the UK is giving the squad opportunities to gel in isolation from the demands of their usual schedules in Malta and might well be the cloud with a silver lining, “as it helps us concentrate solely on our training with fewer distractions, it certainly helps to instill a sense of professionalism in the group. We were unfortunate to lose against Switzerland last time at home and there’s no-one in this squad that wants to see a repeat of that, we are a very positive group,” he adds.

 

A key feature of Malta’s preparations for these upcoming games has been the use of the revitalized Malta A Team to act as a main feeder to the national team, there are 15 local players in the squad this time around, showing how far rugby on the Maltese islands has progressed under National Team Coach and Technical Director Damian Neill. The average age in the squad is down to a sprightly 23 years and Neill says, “Every player in the camp has the chance to make the 22. This is a test of our maturity as a rugby nation.”

 

Malta Rugby is supported by Cisk Lager, Mediterranean Bank, GasanMamo who are helping to develop the next generation of Malta Rugby players, Bortex Fine Tailoring, Intercontinental Malta, Sundreams Travel, LH&A, PWC, Melita, Untangled Media and Ogilvy & Mather.

 

Malta’s European Nations Cup Qualifier match against Croatia will take place at the Hibernians Football Stadium on Saturday November 9, kick-off at 2.00pm. For further information visit www.maltarugby.com or book online with www.ticketline.com.mt or call 9920 7677





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