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Thunder prop Parker called up for Malta

Gateshead Thunder prop forward Chris Parker will play for Malta in Saturday's home international against touring English amateur club Bamber Bridge at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

Parker is only the second full-time professional player to represent the Malta Rugby League (MRL). The 27-year-old forward, a Gateshead Storm junior, was Thunder's most improved player in 2008.

"Getting the call-up to represent Malta is a great honour. It will cap a great season for me, getting my first taste of championship rugby, making it to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and now the chance to play international rugby," Parker said.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting up with the boys out in Malta and I'm hoping to impress the coach and become a regular in the squad for future fixtures."

RLEF Malta Development Officer and Malta caretaker coach Anthony Micallef said: "Luke Branighan (Malta international and current Gateshead Thunder player) told me about Chris being eligible for Malta.

"Chris then got in touch with us and I've been keeping tabs on his progress.

"We're certainly looking forward to having Chris available and he will play a big part in our team on Saturday."

Micallef said the third British touring side to the Maltese islands this year would be a special occasion on many levels and not only for the Gateshead debutant.

"Malta's opponents will use the tour and match as a part of their club's silver anniversary celebrations. It will be the 25th anniversary of the Bamber Bridge club but there is no doubt that the Maltese will be out to spoil their party."

Malta's initial 36-man squad includes Penrith Panthers full-back Jarrod Sammut, dual Malta rugby international Ryan Borg and local players Daniel Grima, Roderick Attard, Mark Seychell and Malcolm Attard.

Ex-Championship CEO and NRL player agent Phillip Browne has been appointed to officiate the fixture.

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