Lebanon RL have just completed a series of high performance coaching clinics at the American University of Beirut and are staging the fixture as a ‘home match.’
The Cedars’ last game in Sydney was a hard-fought encounter against Fiji at the Remondis Stadium last October, which saw the Batis triumph 40-28 in the Hayne-Mannah Cup.
Malta (currently 24th in RLIF world rankings) and who sit immediately below Lebanon, will play in Sydney for the first time since the two sides last met, in front of a big crowd at the same venue back in 2006.
Lebanon took the spoils in that match with a 36-10 victory, weeks ahead of their 2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifying campaign.
Malta head coach Anthony Micallef will remain on the island coordinating the imminent domestic season ahead of a busy European summer international schedule, so the MRL has appointed a quartet of Sydney-based coaches to oversee the international under team manager David Axisa.
Micallef is using the clash as part of the selection process for Malta’s RLEF European Championship C commitments starting in September.
“Our heritage programme in Australia has been working hard uncovering eligible talent playing in the NRL, the State Cups and the National Youth Championship (NYC) through to the strong district competitions,” Micallef commented from Valletta.
“I’m keen to monitor the players’ performances in this match as we have some important games later this year in Europe. It’s a good opportunity for one or two of the players to force their way into Euro C contention.”
Lebanon coach and head of performance Darren Maroon could have a host of NRL stars at his disposal, sounding out West Tigers’ Robbie Farah, Parramatta Eels pair Tim Mannah and Reece Robinson and Reece’s brother Travis from Melbourne Storm.
The Knights have earmarked such as Newcastle Knights’ Jake Mamo and Canberra Raiders’ Andrew Heffernan.
Malta is also preparing for an additional mid-season test match against higher -anked member nation Belgium at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds on 21 June.