May 20, 2011


FIFTEEN players who featured in the MRU Super League final on 8 May 2011 have been drafted in a 30-man squad preparing for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament in South Korea early next month.

Cobra, the newly crowned winners, contributed 10 players while five were drafted from the runners-up Keris Conlay, according to national team manager DSP Ridzuan Abdul Aziz.

The squad has assembled at UiTM in Shah Alam for a centralised camp before the team departs for Ansan, a city in South Korea and an hour’s drive away from Incheon Airport.

DSP Ridzuan said he had initially called up a squad of 46 players but by this week, the number had dropped to 30. The final choice for the 24-member side to fly the Malaysian flag at the tournament will be made prior to departure.

They will be accompanied by four officials.

DSP Ridzuan was chief scout at MRU Super League’s final and was impressed with what he saw. He did not waste time is making immediate arrangements to recruit his new charges.

“Overall, I am happy with the material I have this week,’’ he said, adding that preparations would be much easier with a crop of players who are fit and disciplined.

One disappointment he highlighted was the absence from the camp of three imported players from Sabah who have been part of his campaign for the past two years.

The three players from Fiji – Semi Seruvakula, Nacani Seniu and Viliame Tuinivanua – are a core part of the Malaysian backline. It transpires that they have not been released by their union bosses.

“I know there is an internal problem, but don’t let the players suffer. I need them in the national side,” DSP Ridzuan said.

He did not divulge the details of the “problem” but it is known to be a conflict between the MRU and the Sabah Rugby Union.

The other Fijians in the squad are ASAS captain Timoci Nacokula, and Cobra veterans Isoa Turuva and Kini Rasolosolo. Nacokula and Turuva are centres while Rasolosolo appears at No.8.

DSP Ridzuan said after Malaysia won the Division 2 championship in 2009, he said the outing to South Korea has to be better than the disappointing performance in Singapore last year.

Malaysia, with a full team, lost narrowly 20-22 to hosts Singapore in a match that see-sawed all the way. Singapore scored the narrow lead with two players in the sin bin.

However, Malaysia came back in their next game to beat Chinese Taipei 36-5 to be come third best in the four-country competition. The silverware was taken home by Sri Lanka and Singapore the runners-up.

Malaysia’s first game on Wednesday June 1 at 1pm will be against Singapore. Should they beat Singapore they will proceed to play the winner of the South Korea-Philippine match on Saturday June 4.

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