23 November 2017 – 12 players who won the first ever Gold medal during the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games retained their place in the national team setup. They will be joined by another 8 players in preparation for the 2018 Asia Games in Palembang.
The star captain, Zulkiflee Azmi is expected to retain the armband as his experience proved to be valuable to the team. Apart from the SEA Games, Zulkiflee played in Asia Rugby 7s Series in 2017.
Saizul Hafifi retained his position as the team head coach. “The SEA Games players are the core for the team, with valuable experience to the team. The additional 6 players added great value to the team as they played in the Asia Rugby 7s Series”, shared Hafifi.
The name list, however, raised a few eyebrows as they saw two Malaysia Under 20 players, Muhammad A’aziem and Muhammad Haikal on the list. The duo has already proved their worth with outstanding performance in 2017 as they are the key player in the Malaysia Under 20 setup. The duo will join Muhammad Nazir as Saizul Hafifi will look into developing the three youngsters for the future.
This team will take part in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. It will be one massive learning experience for the team as they will take on rugby giants such as the host Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England, and Wales. Malaysia qualifies for the games as they finished second behind Sri Lanka for Asia team.
Saizul Hafifi dreams for Malaysia to do well in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asia Games. He hopes that his players use the experience from the SEA Games as well from the upcoming Commonwealth to do great in Palembang.
The 2018 Asia Games Jakarta-Palembang seems a long way to go but Malaysians are hoping to see the Malaysia 7s on the podium in August 2018.
The team will start their first centralized training session this 4th December.
Photos by Zainuddin Mamat/ragbionline