|Paolella has Malta dreams|
Gharghur based rugby prop Joe Paolella (pictured) has added inspiration during the 2012 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship, hopeful of a beckoning opportunity with the Malta national team this summer.
Three days short of his 18th birthday, Joe says representing Malta is at the forefront of his rugby aspirations.
“I had the opportunity to represent Malta in rugby union at under 18’s and 20’s and the feeling was immense.” said Paolella.
“To represent Malta with the rugby league national team is just as big a dream as to represent with the rugby union national team”
Having lived on Malta for 15 years, the young prop also has rightful claims to being English and after taking up rugby as an 11-year-old, he admits his love for England.
“I was born in Brighton but I moved to Malta from England when I was just three years old and my mother is Maltese, my father is English. I'm Maltese as much as I am English; of course I love the English rugby teams too”
Paolella was in the thick of the action on Wednesday night, receiving a pin-point short kick off from Malta international Malcolm Attard that saw Paolella monstered by Malta national team hopefuls Dragan Cerketa and John Ellul.
“I love it. It’s a weird feeling. A few good hits help get you into the game. Okay, getting clobbered by two blokes bigger than you is a different story, but I felt good to get up and just want to take up the next hit up once again” says Paolella who has trimmed six kilograms from his large frame this rugby season alone.
“This has been a big season for me. I’ve worked harder off the field and am down to 103kg. I need my size, its part of being a prop, but I’m feeling a lot better now”
In his final year of secondary school studies, Percy as he is known by his rugby mates, says the collisions are the most fun on the pitch.
“For me personally, any rugby is good fun. Whether it’s touch, tag, beach rugby, league or union. But one of the things that drew me to the game is probably the bigger hits. As a forward in rugby union, I love a big hit. I watched a few rugby league games before taking up the game last year and saw the big hits and was instantly drawn to it”, smiles Paolella (pictured right; looking towards camera) who wants to get the most out of this season’s rugby league championship.
“I want to test my fitness in the championship. Rugby league is quite a bit more tiring than union, so it’s a real test for me. Ultimately though, I’d like to play well for Malta Origin and then prove my worth for a spot to represent Malta on the international stage of rugby league”
Photos: Matthew Scerri.