Roderick Attard will become the first Maltese rugby league player to trial with a professional club when he arrives in Newcastle later this month.
The Malta halfback will trial with the Championship club with a view to selection for the 2010 squad.
The 25-year-old Malta international, also a handy goal kicker, was buoyed by a strong performance in Malta’s recent 36-28 victory at Hamrun’s Victor Tedesco Stadium, scoring a try and kicking five conversions.
Speaking of the trial, Attard said “I have been training and playing rugby union for the past six years and this is an opportunity that I cannot miss for me to improve my rugby skills and learn more about rugby league”
“I really wish that this will be a new beginning for my career in sports”
“I want to thank all those who have helped me, guided me and supported me in order to be able to go for this opportunity. I am very excited” says Attard.
Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) Malta Development Officer Anthony Micallef said that after also attracting interest to play at a Conference club and to complete a training camp with a Super League club, “It is another outstanding opportunity presented to Roderick and one I trust he will take with both hands”
“There will be much for Roderick to learn and the Malta Rugby League (MRL) wishes Roderick all the best on the new opportunity that rugby league has given him. At the same time, I commend the vision of the Gateshead Thunder and its supporters arm, ‘Squad Builder’, the initiative that are funding Roderick’s visit”
Thunder officials first spotted the St Ignatius College tal-Handaq schoolteacher playing rugby league for the Malta XIII in May, commercial manager Keith Christie commenting, “I was fortunate enough to coach Rod, and other Maltese players including Rod proved to be more than capable of playing rugby league at international level”
Christie feels the Maltese have a bright future in rugby league, “I have had the opportunity to see firsthand what rugby league meant to the people of Malta and was delighted that the game is growing”
“Rod coming over is a great step for him and it also speaks volumes for the vision used at Gateshead Thunder and their supporters to develop the team and club’s relationships”
Attard will spend four days in the UK and arrives in Newcastle on November 13.