New players to boost defence of SEA Games rugby gold

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 : The Malaysia Rugby Union (MRU) has reshuffled the national squad and listed seven new players for the team to the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines.


MRU is pinning its hopes on the line-up of new players with nine old players to retain the gold medal at the biennial event from Nov 30 to Dec 11.


The national rugby squad created history since in their participation of the SEA Games when they won the gold medal in the men ‘s seven (7s) at the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.


National coach, Mohd Saizul Hafifi Mohd Noor said the seven new players were from the MRU Development and University Programmes.


“As hosts, the Philippines will put high hopes on their squad and this is a good challenge for the men’s squad. I hope the new players will adapt themselves with the older players and give high commitment and display great maturity to retain the gold medal.


“We have lost two or three players, who will be filled by new players and hope they would give a great impact to the squad in the SEA Games, ” said Mohd Saizul Hafifi in a 2019 SEA Games Team Malaysia news conference held at the National Sports Council (NSC).


Mohd Saizul Hafifi said among the challengers in the Philippines SEA Games are Thailand as they have shown much improvement and had even engaged a foreign coach.


He said the hosts would be give a tough fight in their home ground apart from calling on naturalised players to take on national duty.


The Malaysia rugby team will be playing in the Olympic Games Qualifying Championship in South Korea at the end of November to assess the performance of players and identify the strength of their opponents.


“Our objective is to see the performance of players before the SEA Games…there will be no real target for Olympics. Also playing there are Philippines and Singapore. So I feel we can see the performance of both teams and evaluate them before the final preparations to Manila,” he said.


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