Malta's national rugby league team has climbed to 18th place in the world rankings, figures released this week show. 

The ranking is the highest for Malta, the previous highest ranking set in 2012 when the team placed 20th. 

The top ranked team by the Rugby League International Federation is New Zealand, followed by Australia and England. 

Malta's ranking was helped following victories over Belgium and Ireland which saw the team jump five places in the list. Malta is ranked one place below Belgium and above Germany. Italy are in 12th place.

Although Malta has yet to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup, the team has made remarkable progression since its first international in 2000.

See full rankings here

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