Billy Magoulias has been spending the past few years rising up the ranks with the Cronulla Sharks, looking to make his eighth NRL appearance for the club against Parramatta on Saturday.
One of the only Greek Australians to be playing in the top division, Magoulias said in an interview with NRL.com that he looks to take up a “leadership role” in inspiring Greeks who want to play rugby.
“John Skandalis played, and Braith Anasta and Jim Serdaris, so there have been a few over the years but at the moment I am the only Greek player in the NRL,” Magoulias said.
“I guess with me being the only NRL player in the squad I have a bit of responsibility and a leadership role. The other guys obviously look up to you and try to get some inspiration so I talk to them and try to make an effort.”
Young guns Peter Mamouzelos, Nick Mougios and Lachlan Ilias are all climbing through the ranks as the next generation of Greek Australians in the NRL. Mamouzelos and Ilias are currently members of the Greece World Cup squad under head coach Steve Georgallis.
“There are other guys playing in the Ron Massey Cup and comps like that,” Magoulias said. “We just keep in contact and organise dinners to stay in contact while we are not playing together.”
Magoulias has had a strong role in promoting rugby for Greek Australians, presenting jerseys to the Greek women’s rugby league team in the Sydney International 9s tournament earlier in March.
Under the guidance of Georgallis, former interim Canterbury Bulldogs head coach, Magoulias has set a play-off goal for the squad in the upcoming World Cup.
“We knuckled down to make the World Cup, which is a big step for Greece, and we went there with Steve [Georgallis],” Magoulias said.
“The game is quite raw over there and we did a lot of development work and coaching sessions.
“That is why it’s important for me, playing NRL, to try and drive that through and give them inspiration because when they are watching the NRL they can see that there is a Greek player.
“There are only 16 teams in the World Cup and we are probably going to be ranked down the bottom but we will obviously try to compete and get into the play-off stage. If we can do that it will be big for the game in Greece.”