MALTA coach Aaron McDonald believes claiming the Emerging Nations World Cup crown will have far-reaching impacts well beyond the silverware.
The Knights claimed the ultimate prize with a 24-16 win over Niue, avenging a loss in the pool stages, with the victory already attracting plenty of attention back in the island nation.
"Speaking to the manager over here he was getting messages all night from Malta and it'd had already attracted plenty of media attention over there,” McDonald said.
“I can only imagine that's increased a lot since [Saturday]. The [Malta] Consular General was there as well and is already discussing some things we can do back in Malta to grow the game there.
“There's certainly a willingness to do that now and hopefully, one day, qualify for the World Cup in the future.”
Niue lead 6-0 after just five minutes but the Knights hit back soon after through London Broncos star Jarrod Sammut, who was a key inclusion, and led 10-6 at halftime.
They ran in three second-half tries, including a nice solo effort from Jamberoo star Jono Dallas, to lead 24-6 heading into the final quarter of the match.
Niue hit back with a pair of consolation tries but it wasn't enough, with Malta ultimately running out 24-16 victors.
“I think our defence set the tone,” McDonald said.
“They got out early and I think that sparked a few guys into action. Once we got into that grind and started going set for set we started to get on top.
“We took some chances, I thought we bombed a few as well, but I thought we had them on the ropes for most of the game.
“Once we got on top I was really pleased with the boys willingness to keep playing and not just protect a lead. I couldn't be prouder of them.”
Collegians skipper Blake Phillips capped the tournament with a spot in the World team chosen at the end of the tournament, while Dalls and Wests's Justin Rodrigues were instrumental to Saturday's win.
The Illawarra-South Coast connection also played a big role in Poland's tight win over The Philippines in the Trophy final, with the squad featuring Jamberoo’s Simon and Michael Maslanka and Dapto's Harry Seijka.