Coaching rivals to team up for Greece
Canterbury coach Steve Georgallis and Newtown assistant Jim Pizanias will put their rivalry aside after Sunday's NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership grand final to help plot Greece's campaign in the upcoming Emerging Nations World Championship in Sydney.
Georgallis' Bulldogs will take on a Jets outfit which features Pizanias on the coaching staff and also boasts Greece back-rower Billy Magouilias, who is a member of Cronulla's NRL squad and was in last season's NYC Under 20s team of the year.
The coaching duo have had a long involvement in try to develop the game in Greece and their efforts are starting to pay dividends, with the Centaurs defeating Malta 60-4 in Athens last weekend to keep alive their hopes of a place in the 2021 World Cup.
"I am with Canterbury and Jimmy is the assistant coach at Newtown so there is going to be a little bit of a Greek scuffle on Sunday," Georgallis said.
Pizanias added: "It's Greek versus Greek, so we are looking forward to that but we are also looking forward to working together at this tournament".
Former Sydney Roosters prop Michael Korkidas, who played more than 200 matches in England for Salford, Wakefield, Castleford, Huddersfield and Keighley, will captain Greece.
While the majority of the Centaurs players at the ENWC, which starts on October 1, are Australian-based, three members of the squad play in the domestic Greek competition and another, Stefanos Bastas, was recently signed from Rhodes Knights by English League 1 club Hemel Stags.
"We first toured Greece in 2006 to try and start the competition over there," Georgallis said. "We went back overseas in 2013 and played Hungary, with Braith Anasta in the team.
"We are now flying out four domestic players for the tournament, which is a good buzz for them and helps their level of footy when they go back."
Former Warriors under 20s halfback Jordan Meads, who now plays in Queensland, Mittagong's Sebastian Sell, Victoria-based Terence Constantinou and Asquith's Robert Tuilutu flew to Ukraine earlier this month to help Greece to a 28-26 win in their first World Cup qualifying match.
After beating Malta, the Centaurs will face Norway in the next stage of World Cup qualifiers.
"We know it is going to be a big task to get into the World Cup but Lebanon and Italy showed what can be done with a bit of help from Australian-born players," Korkidas said.
"The game is growing in Greece, from a few teams in Athens we are now up to five or six teams, and the players and people involved in the game over there have a real passion for rugby league."
Greece will play Hungary in their opening match of the ENWC on October 1 at Windsor Sporting Complex and then face Vanuatu on October 7 at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta.
Greece squad: Stefanos Bastas (Hemel Stags), Terry Constantine (Sunbury), Troy Errington (Guildford), Nathan Hughes (Beerwah Bulldogs), Clinton Hughes (Beerwah Bulldogs), Dimos Kartsonakis (Rhodes Knights), Michael Korkidas (Unattached), Con Kotsidonis (Rhodes Knights), Billy Magoulias (Newtown), Jordan Meads (Kawana Dolphins), Terry Mihalatos (Cabramatta), Nick Mougios (North Sydney), Giannis Rosoglou (Aris Eagles), Sebastian Sell (Mittagong), Sam Stratis (North Sydney), Liam Sue Tin (Valleys), Tyrone Taumako (North Sydney), George Tsikrikas (Newtown), Billy Tsikrikas (Glebe Burwood), Mitch Zampetides (Penrith Brothers), Alex Zarounas (Belrose), Laurence Zarounas (Belrose), Robert Tuliutu (Asquith), Jake Vrahnos (Sydney University), Adam Vrahnos (Sydney University), Sebastian Vourlos (The Entrance).