Malta will face Turkey for the first time and Italy this autumn, with both matches to be staged in Sydney.
The Knights will come up against historic rivals Turkey at the New Era Stadium, Cabramatta on 26 October as part of the (Australian based heritage players) international weekend. Turkey head coach, Scott Hartas is hoping some big names will be available to him after his side performed well in last year’s Emerging Nations’ Championship.
“This is a great opportunity to see where we are at,” said Hartas. “We put in some good performances last year, but I’m keen to see how the team will respond when we add a couple of our NRL boys into the mix – Canberra Raiders’ Aidan Sezer and Emre Guler.”
Before that, on 12 October, the 16th ranked Knights will play Italy with the venue to be confirmed. “The group has been itching to get back together and play Test matches,” commented MRL president, Jean Pierre Zarb. “We’ve been pursuing games for a while now, and we are keen to meet the Italians again, later down the track in both Sicily and Malta, to contest a Cross-Mediterranean Challenge.”
The October test will also serve as a valuable lead up for the Azzurri before their 2021 Rugby League World Cup final qualification campaign in Europe in November against Ireland and Spain under new head coach Leo Epifania.
The last time the countries met was in 2017, the game ending in a 24-24 draw at the Marconi Stadium. Organisers have confirmed that both nations will field U16 and U18 sides in curtain-raisers before the main fixture.
Back on the island, the first Resident State of Origin saw Malta Black Knights defeat the Red Knights 48-30 at the Marsa Sports Complex.