The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has announced its 26-man train-on squad for the autumn international programme after three weeks of intensive training.
The Cedars, drawn largely from the domestic Bank of Beirut Rugby League Championship, will participate in a two-match tour of Italy this month, followed by the inaugural MENA Championship in October when a Pakistan selection will make its bow in representative competition.
The squad will fly out to Venice on September 20, before returning to Lebanon to take on a Pakistani side that will draw players from Islamabad and the UAE as well as its experienced, English-based core, which includes former England international Ikram Butt. Both matches will be at the Olympic Stadium in Tripoli.
Harlequins RL assistant coach Rob Powell will take over the reins of the team for these games on completion of his Super League duties. He will draw on an experienced group, which boasts eleven players with previous national team experience although one of those, USJ utility Wael Harb, will not travel to Italy due to work commitments but will be available for the Pakistan series. Boston’s George Aroyan will make his debut for Lebanon, having arrived in Beirut from the USA.
Team manager Remond Safi said, “It has been an interesting and difficult process selecting this squad. For the players it will be fantastic to face challenging opposition such as Italy and the Pakistan XIII. This will be a huge step for some of them but the experience gained will be very valuable for our preparations as we head towards the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.”
In a further boost, Quality Inn Hotel has announced its renewed sponsorship of the Lebanon national team which will extend through the 2011 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers, providing its renowned hospitality and vast array of resources to the team.
As main sponsor, the hotel will have its logo featured on the front of the Cedars’ playing kits. The partnership provides the Quality Inn Hotel brand with tremendous visibility in a sport that is rapidly becoming a feature in Lebanon.
Quality Inn Hotel General Manager Samer Younes commented, “We are very proud to be the major sponsor of our international rugby league team. Quality Inn Hotel wishes the Cedars ‘good luck’ on their upcoming Italian tour and we look forward to seeing them doing us proud in the MENA Championship later on in the year.”
“We are both proud and privileged to be associated with such a worthy institute as the LRLF. We have developed together recently and we hope to build upon this relationship into the future, mutually benefiting from the invigorating and enhancing partnership.”
LRLF Chief Operating Officer Remond Safi added, “We are very excited to have a Lebanese company committed to helping Lebanese players achieve their goal of representing their country. Our aims are very similar in that we both want to increase brand awareness and continue to attract patrons in both of our very valuable markets.”
Situated in historical Tripoli, the Quality Inn hotel overlooks the Mediterranean and the city. The hotel is a short walk to Tripoli’s famed markets and historical attractions.
2010 LEBANON SQUAD
Mohamed Akar, Peter Rahal, Mohamed Tawil (AUB); Abdul Bekdache, Riad Khoury, Sami Mansour (Balamand); George Aroyan (Boston 13s RLFC); Mounir Finan, Youssef El Helou, Pierre Nasr (Jounieh RLFC); Raymond Finan, Robin Hachache (C), Rudy Hachache, Jad Hachem, Mohamed Jamil, Bahije Saridar (LAU Immortals); Rony Akel, Wael Harb, Khaled Rafii (USJ Saints); Nemer Saliba (Wolves RLFC)
LEBANON 2010 FIXTURES
ITALY v LEBANON, Stadio Communale Simone Franchini, Monselice, 22 September
ITALY v LEBANON, Stadio Communale del Plebiscito, Padova, 25 September
LEBANON v PAKISTAN XIII, Olympic Stadium, Tripoli, 3 October
LEBANON v PAKISTAN XIII, Olympic Stadium, Tripoli, 6 October