Players and staff of the Greece national rugby league team have revealed that they do not intend to receive any money from their Rugby League World Cup campaign.
The Greek rugby players, who are making their first appearance at the tournament, face France in Doncaster on Tuesday morning.
Greece will participate in the tournanment in Group A after qualifying in November 2019, when they beat Serbia 82-6 in the European qualifiers.
Most players in the Greek squad are part-time and have taken leave without pay to play.
Yet rather than collect their weekly stipend from tournament organizers, they have decided to put their tournament allowance back into Greek Rugby League Federation’s coffers.
In a statement coach Steve Georgallis said: ”All the players have decided to forego their money to help the federation.”
”It’s actually costing a lot of the guys to play but they understand what we are trying to achieve.”
“Even the professional guys like Lachlan Ilias and Peter Mamouzelos, you’d think they would get paid but they said ‘no, we get what you’re trying to build’.”
Money to be reinvested into developing Greek national rugby team
24 players make up the Greek national rugby team, most from the Australian rugby league. That includes five Australian NRL players, some players from the Australian junior league, Australian NRL players, as well as some players from the Australian junior league and eight domestic players from Greece.
The idea is that the money saved from the Rugby League World Cup will be reinvested into developing more skilled Greek rugby players such as Stefanos Bastas, who is one of the eight players in Georgallis’ team.
He said: “For us it’s not about earning money, it’s about the experience and being together as a group.”
“It’s about playing for your family, your country. Everyone said we don’t want (to earn) anything.”
Bastas has gone on to play with semi-professional clubs in England after discovering the league only at age 19.
He has gone through a whole journey to reach great playing standards considering the fact that, until August of this year, rugby league was outlawed in Greece.
According to Billy Magoulias: ”It was a group decision, that’s the way we ran with it,”
“There’s a lot of sacrifices – work, time away from family, money and all of that – but it’s enjoyable and I wouldn’t change it.”
“Now it’s legal, we can get into schools and not have the fear of not being able to do things,” Georgallis, a former NRL interim head coach at Penrith and Canterbury, said.
“We are hoping that it’ll go to another level after this.”
Greece participates in rugby league competitions since 2003
The Greece national rugby league team has been participating in international competitions since 2003.
The founder of the Greek Rugby League was Colin Melons and Australians with Greek heritage formed the team.
Nicknamed ‘The Titans’, the squad first played international fixtures in 2003.
Until July 2022, Greece was unable to host matches as the government did not recognize the Greek Rugby League Association. After recognition however, they are now free to host games on home soil without intervention.
Greece announced its squad for this year’s Rugby League World Cup in an event in Sydney Australia last month. Australian based players mostly comprise the team.
The squad will include Jordan Meads (Captain), Lachlan Elias, Stefanos Bastas, Nikolaos Bosmos, Terry Constantinou, Jake Kambos, John Mitsias, Nick Mougios, Robert Tuliatu, Sebastian Sell, Chaise Robinson, Kosta Katsidonis, Mitchell Zampetides, Greg Koutsimporgiorgos, Theodoros Nianiakas, Vasili Tsikrikas, Adam Vrahnos.
They are coached by Steve Georgallis, with the help of assistant coaches Jim Pizanias and Michalis Chatziinoannou.