Helping rugby squad to retain SEA Games gold

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU) has identified four international championships to help the national squad maintain their form and defend the SEA Games men’s seven-a-side gold medal in the Philippines this year.

Head coach Saizul Hafifi Md Nor (pic) said the 16 players who signed their contracts with the National Sports Council (MSN) today will begin full-time training sessions at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) next week.

“We will be doing comprehensive preparations beginning next week as we expect fierce challenge from the Philippines who have many mixed-parentage players from countries like England and New Zealand. We are also aware of the threat from neighbouring countries Singapore and Thailand.

“We have also planned four tournaments at the moment, namely the Borneo sevens in Sandakan on March 23-24, besides tournaments in Singapore, Sri Lanka and Japan. We have a very experienced squad as we managed to retain 10 out of 12 squad players who won the SEA Games gold medal in 2017,” he told reporters at MSN today.

Malaysia beat Singapore to win the gold in the last SEA Games edition in Kuala Lumpur, while in the 2015 edition in Singapore, they finished with the silver after losing to the Philippines.

The 16 players named in the squad are Zulkiflee Azmi, Muhammad Hezry Muhammad Anis, Muhammad Azwan Zuwairi Mat Zizi, Amalul Hazim Nasaruddin, Muhammad Siddiq Anir Jalil, Muhammad Dzafran Asyraaf Muhamad Zainudin, Mohamad Safwan Abdullah, Wan Izzuddin Ismail, Muhammad Ameer Nasrun Zulkefli, Muhamad Firdaus Tarmizi, Muhammad Zulhisham Rasli, Mohamad Nasharuddin Ismail, Nur Azri Azmi, Mohamad Sofian Mohamad Kamil, Joseph Gordon and Anwarrul Aswad @Hafiz Ahmad.- Bernama