Squads have been named for the tenth Griffin Cup, as Netherlands take on Germany, and for the ranking international between Bulgaria and Malta.
Both matches take place today (Saturday), with the Western European rivals meeting at a sold-out British School in The Hague (kick off 4pm local time), and Bulgaria hosting Malta at Lokomotiv Sofia (kick off 3pm local time).
Netherlands currently lead the series with 5-4 and the match will be their first on home soil without Covid restrictions since 2018. Their head coach, Dave Hunter, commented: “We’re really motivated to end the season on a high, but we’re well aware of the challenge the German team will bring, and they’ll be desperate to take the Griffin Cup back over the border. We’re proud to field a full domestic side and it’ll be a great opportunity for the lads to test themselves.”
Bob Doughton, NRLD president, noted: “With Germany having experienced one of the toughest Covid lockdowns in Europe, this year’s Griffin Cup match gives us a chance to assess ourselves against a very strong Netherlands team who last year won Euro D and recently beat Spain.”
Bulgaria go in as underdogs against Malta, but head coach Adrien Frigola is looking forward to the challenge. “We’re really excited to play such a quality team in front of our home crowd. The training sessions this week have been really intense, the players are ready and really pumped up for that game. We know it’s going to be pretty tough because Malta has a lot of experienced players but we’re going to be up there for the physical contest and ready for the battle.”
The Knights squad features ten players from the Islands and includes four possible debutants, Luke Musu and William Watts, Florida-based Justin Davenport, and Reece Dimech – a Maltese champion runner and the brother of international Kaine Dimech.
Barrow Raiders half back Jarrod Sammut is unavailable this weekend, but that has opened the door for the return of Cornwall’s Louis Singleton who makes his return after a debut appearance in the 35-34 win over Belgium in 2015.
Coach Roderick Attard said: “We’ve had a smooth build up for this game. We were near faultless in our execution against Montenegro and if we can perform like we did in May, I’ll be very happy.”
The Bulgaria international will be livestreamed at: https://tv1.bg
NETHERLANDS SQUAD : Gideon van Kleij, Will Johnston (Amsterdam Cobras), Hamish Wragg, Bonne Wilce, Paul Dirkzwager, Frank Longhurst, Lucas Gout, Romeo Goldman (Den Haag Knights), Arie-Tjerk Razoux Schultz, Mark van den Broek, Ruben Stuifzand (Harderwijk Dolphins), Isaac Ngirubiu, Edson Neves (Rotterdam Pitbulls), Mike Prins, Laury Renac, Mauricio Gomez Pazos, Paul Kuijpers, Kees Kuijpers (Zwolle Wolves)
GERMANY SQUAD : Ben White (Batley Bulldogs) Benedikt Esser (Bears) Adam Ryder (Dewsbury Rams) Brad Billsborough (North Wales Crusaders) Jack Baskerville, Fabian Kramer, Christophe Ngondi, Simon Strauss (Panthers) Aarre Heinrichsen, Dany Doukeng Kongmo Ngo, Liam Doughton, Sebastian Paaßen, Malte Rohrmoser (Rhinos) Mawuli Améfia, Niklas Hartwich, Kilian Martin, Felix Rau (Trouts) Eoin Bowie (Villeneuve Leopards) Charlie Tetley (Wakefield Trinity)
BULGARIA SQUAD : Doicho Slavin (RC Bulls Burgas), Boris Spirov (Brunel University London), Denis Ivanov, Kostadin Debrenliev, Hristian Ivanov, James Sherwood, Mihail Georgiev, Miroslav Debreliev, Mitko Atanasov, Teodor Manchev, Tinko Hristov, Thomas Roche, Tsvetan Rashev, Simeon Tsvetanov, Stanislav Borisov, Vladislav Parizov (RLC Lokomotive Sofia), James Mott (RC Sailors Burgas), Antonio Ivanov, Georgi Vаklinov (RFC Valiacite Pernik)
MALTA SQUAD : Alfie Jewitt (Ackworth Jaguars), Zarrin Galea (Brighton Roosters), Aidan Demicoli, Nicky Vella, Jean-Pierre Zarb (Black Knights), Mark Camilleri, Jean Scholey (Blue Knights), Louis Singleton (Cornwall), Kaine Dimech, Reece Dimech (Medway Dragons), Scott Beerman, Luke Musu, William Watts (Red Knights), Karl Cassar (Royal Air Force [RAF]), Josh Gatt (RC Salon XIII), Justin Davenport (SWFL Hammerheads), Peter Debono, Daniel Grima (unattached), Dean Zammit (Wigan St Patricks)