Steve Georgallis has around four decades worth of experience with rugby league.

Georgallis spent hours playing with his mates at the local park as a young boy before making his way up to the NRL playing mostly with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters and Western Suburbs Magpies.

These days he holds a colourful career in coaching having looked after the Penrith Panthers, West Tigers and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to name a few.

The newly appointed North Queensland Cowboys assistant coach talks to Neos Kosmos about his hopes to lead Greece’s national team to victory and keeping his cool during matches.

READ MORE: Passion to profession: Players from the women’s Greek National Rugby team head to Wales

What drew you to rugby league?

The funny thing is that I was playing soccer up until the age of 10 and obviously my father being of Greek heritage didn’t know too much about rugby league but we lived across the road from a park where rugby league was played.

Most of my friends in the area were playing rugby league at the time so that’s what probably got me involved and I really enjoyed it. 40 years later I’m still involved.

It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?

I haven’t really changed much, on game day I’m pretty relaxed. I’ve done most of my prep during the week so I’m pretty confident come game day. We’ve marked everything off that we need to as coaches, it was about the same when I was playing.

To get me in the zone, I’m more or less going over the notes from the week looking at how we’re going to play and what the threat.

Top 3 training songs?

Anything from the 80s to be honest because some of the music they play these days I don’t really get into it. It pretty out there. We just put the 80s or the 90s hits on.

Steve Georgallis (centre) was the Interim Head Coach for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL in 2020 Photo: AAP Image via Joel Carrett

What do you find most challenging about the game?

The basic concepts of the game haven’t changed. For me, the most challenging this is that I feel that the players or the athletes are younger. When I was playing, you probably wouldn’t get to the top level until you were 22, 23. Now you’ve got 17, 18 year old kids playing in top level.

We worked for everything that we got when we were younger in the 80s and the 90s, but now it’s got to be there straight away. It’s the technology, it’s just that era where everything has to come straight away. So what’s most challenging is trying to explain to them that it’s going to take a while to reach the top level or don’t be in a rush to get there. There’s a lot of learning to be done on the way.

What has been a highlight in your career thus far?

In 2018 when we won the reserve grade competition and obviously making the World Cup, Greece’s first time ever making the Rugby League World Cup.

How has rugby league impacted your life?

Other than it being an income source, it’s allowed me to travel the world. I’ve been to some different countries; Japan, Serbia, countries that I never thought I’d go to, to play or to coach games. I played in England so I was able to do a bit of Europe, so it allowed me to do all those sorts of things and learn and educate myself along the way.

What is something you learned about yourself throughout your experience in coaching?

You probably see a lot of coaches, when they’re out there they’re losing it and going nuts in the box. That’s one thing I’ve learnt, that no matter what you do or what you say, you can’t control what’s happening on the football field. All the work you need to do for a game is during the week and whatever happens on the field you can’t change.

You can tweak it at half time and make a few adjustments but if you lose control, your players will lose control. The more control you show as a coach, the more the players have control in their performance on the football field.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

It’s pretty cutthroat in the NRL so to have a job at the end of the year. I’m signed for three years but that could mean anything these days and have a successful World Cup tournament at the end of 2021. Hopefully it goes ahead in England. At the moment they’ve said it’s full steam ahead and we won’t have to be in a bubble.

In 2011 Steve Georgallis coached the Penrith Panthers Photo: AAP Image via Action Photographics/Colin Whelan

What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?

With a name like Georgallis I’ve got Greek background but what a lot of people don’t realise is my mum’s actually Dutch. She was born in Holland and came out here. The other one would be is that I’m a P.E. teacher by trade.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

Just a beer at the pub!

How did COVID disrupt your coaching?

I don’t think it disrupted our coaching, I think it actually helped our coaching because we’re all close and so together. We had a small group, education wise and footy wise we were always getting on with one another, we became really close as a team.

I think the only thing it really affected was the fact that we didn’t have a crowd, a lot of the players love playing in front of crowds and their families. A lot of their families were not able to make it to the footy either which was pretty disappointing for most of the players.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Playing in front of crowds, in a full house and everyone getting back to normality.