The 2011 European Shield will be involve regulars Germany along with last year’s Bowl opponents, Norway and Malta.
All three nations impressed last year and, with a reorganisation of the European international calendar looming in 2012, are keen to perform well to maximise their standing and rankings.
For Norway in particular it is an incremental boost, coming as it does on the back of the announcement that TV2 will broadcast engage Super League games in the country on a weekly basis.
EUROPEAN SHIELD 2011
- 1st July – Malta v Norway, Hamrun
- 9th July – Norway v Germany, Oslo
- 23th July – Germany v Malta, Hochspeyer
Erlend Granly Meldalen, skipper of Norway league side the Aker Seagulls, confirmed the Norwegians accept the will likely be tagged underdogs. But insists following after their spirited display in Malta last June neither of their opponents can afford to take them lightly.
The two weeks of matches will be an experience for us. No one expects us to win against Germany and Malta but I promise they won’t have it easy against us.
His anticipation is echoed by Maltese Knights skipper and veteran prop Danial Grima, who said:
Malta are really looking forward to stepping up to the European Shield this summer and if there wasn’t enough incentive already, a re-match against Norway and the opportunity to take on Germany on their own soil is a mouth watering prospect.
In 2012 the Shield becomes a four-team biennial championship. Italy, Russia and Serbia are already earmarked to participate, but the fourth spot is undecided. Teams will play six matches over two years, with the fourth-placed team in danger of dropping down to the Bowl.
This revised format will potentially include a 2017 world cup qualification element
Norway gave us a strong battle for an hour last time out. We now have an additional twelve months of experience and the Shield encounter will definitely create more spark and passion between the two teams.
Malta and Germany have quite a history and I can see that this will be a great occasion and game of rugby league.
As for Germany, coach Dan Stocks is looking to add to his nation’s Shield success in 2006.
The opportunity to play against two really progressive countries is exciting for us. I am looking forward to working with this year’s squad as there is now some genuine competition for places.