By Andriana Simos and Takis Triadafillou.
With less than three months to go before the Rugby League World Cup 2021, Greece’s national Rugby League men’s team is ramping up its training under the leadership of head coach Steve Georgallis.
The team is made up of five Australian NRL players, including Peter Mamouzelos, Lachlan Elias, and Nicholas Mougios from the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as well as some players from the Australian junior league and eight domestic players from Greece.
They’re all set to play their first match against France on October 17 this year at Eco-Power Stadium in Doncaster, UK, followed by matches against Samoa and England on October 23 and October 29 respectively.
In an interview with The Greek Herald, Georgallis says the team can’t wait to get onto the football field and play against these fierce competitors.
“They love playing for Greece,” the Greek Australian coach says with a proud smile.
“Most of the NRL players and the players from Australia have been involved for the last six, seven years and they’re very excited. The eight Greek players, they’re jumping out of their skin. They can’t wait.”
And it’s no surprise the players are excited. This will be the first ever World Cup for Greece after they qualified in November 2019 when they beat Serbia 82-6 in the European World Cup qualifiers.
At the time, Georgallis was again at the helm and he’s always been the right man for the job.
Not only does he have the skillset as an assistant coach for the NRL North Queensland Cowboys team and former interim head coach at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, but he’s also incredibly proud of his Greek heritage as the son of a migrant from the Greek island of Tilos.
“I get quite emotional sometimes because my father came out here in the 50s with nothing and provided everything and [coaching the team] is sort of a way to repay him and when we talk about it, he tears up a little bit,” Georgallis explains.
“Just the actual fact that there is going to be rugby league in Greece and we’re in the World Cup… even talking about it now, I’m a little bit emotional.”
This emotion won’t cloud Georgallis’ judgement though as he hopes to push the team to do their best in the World Cup and ultimately, help put rugby league in the spotlight in Greece.
“You know, who would have thought rugby league, Greece, in a World Cup? No one would have thought that ten years ago,” the coach concludes.
“And just the effect it has on people in the community. When we get over to Greece they can’t thank us enough for introducing them to the game. They all love playing it and… I think [rugby league] will blossom in Greece because Greeks are built to play the game.”
An exciting premonition from a coach who has his sights set on returning to Australia with a victory at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.