Alexis Mavrantonis is an all round powerhouse in the world of women’s rugby league.

The 27-year-old Sydneysider has always had a passion for sport throughout her life, having touched everything from swimming to soccer. Now she’s entering the world of cricket in her new day job.

“I was South Sydney’s Match Day and Fan Development Manager and I’ve moved on to BBL Match Experience Specialist at Cricket NSW,” Mavrantonis told Neos Kosmos. 

Rugby league however is still her first greatest sporting love having grown up watching the game from a young age, to now being a part of the Greece’s national rugby league team and playing for local team, Mascot.

Finding her way to the field wouldn’t have been possible without the three people Mavrantonis cites as her greatest supporters.

“My roommate has been so influential and if I have a goal she’s driving me and working with me until I get it, so I’ve always got that support and her believing in me which is really great. My pappou is also definitely my number one supporter, he’s always the first to ask if I played sport this weekend and when my next game is. Mum has always been so supportive too in anything I do and has been there every step of the way,” she said.

Mavrantonis talks overcoming injury, captaining the Greece’s national rugby team and her first stint in a magazine.

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What drew you to rugby league?

My family were always massive fans, so it was always on TV and when I was about 10 years old my mum took my sister and I, along with my aunty and cousin to games and it all stemmed from that. Growing up I was a swimmer and would play basketball so I’ve always been sporty but I just never thought I could play rugby league.

When I was at uni I started playing touch football and that’s a very fast game, probably a little too fast for me, but I really enjoyed it. Then it came up through some of the girls that the Rabbitohs were entering a team and we were able to go and trial.

I had no previous skill in tackling. We went along to these trials and it was six weeks of training and a massive trial at the end. I didn’t make it but we connected with the local girls that were already playing, so I was able to join a team there and I guess that’s how I got into it.

I would’ve loved to have played it when I was younger, but it just wasn’t a thing.

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

I try and get a good night’s sleep, it all starts the day before. For the mental side of things, I write down what I want to do well and how I want to play and what I want to focus on. I’ll have a big bowl of pasta or just carb load. When I wake up, I want to feel good about myself and have lots of energy. I normally have eggs on toast and a coffee, that’s probably my go to game day breakfast.

I try and get out for a walk. I’m near the ocean so I’m lucky, so depending on the weather I might go for a quick dip to wake myself up and then I start to prepare for the game.

Top three training songs?

The song that probably pumps me up the most is called Anyway by Duck Sauce and then there’s Go Bang by Pnau and of course anything by Dua Lipa.

A young Alexis Mavrantonis with her favourite team’s mascot Photo: Supplied

What do you find most challenging about the game?

This year I was playing in the middle, then I was moved to hooker. I moved to a ball playing, ‘have to take the lead’ role. I think for me, it was trying to stay mentally focused in the game and not let my mind wander off. So much has happened in the past two years, I find that sometimes mentally focusing can be really tough for me.

It’s something that I’m working on and one I can conquer that I’ll be able to play the best that I can.

What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?

I’d definitely say playing the [Greek] Nines and captaining. I was supposed to be the Vice Captain, and then unfortunately Samantha, our other great player got injured the morning of. She had to go play her club trial game and then come and play the tournament.

So I literally found out on the day that I would be captaining. It just meant so much to me to be able to help this team get off the ground running and also be able to captain the girls. That’s definitely a highlight for me so far.

How has rugby league impacted your life?

Having rugby league in my life has given me a bit of purpose. When I was in high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I was a bit lost, as you are when you’re about to finish year 12. I know I wanted to study and I was always the one at school dragging my friends to the South games.

We’d jump on the train and go to Olympic Park just to watch the games. I knew I wanted to incorporate sport into my life, but I just didn’t know how to beyond school. I studied at UTS and I finally got an internship.

It changed my life, it gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of pride that I was able to work and then eventually play in the sport that I loved growing up. I’m in a position where I can spread awareness to young girls, so now I coach the under 12 girls at South. It was amazing that I could now transfer my knowledge down to them and to see them play. They were undefeated in their season, which was really rewarding.

At South I was able to implement a new girls only clinic. We were able to have a day where girls could come and safely try rugby league without being intimidated by the boys being there. Rugby league can be quite scary if you’ve never played football.

The clinic was around two years ago now and seeing some of them in the team I coach is really rewarding for me after having introduced them to the sport.

What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?

If I put my mind to something, I can do it. sometimes you need to take a risk and be more confident and know that ‘I was there because I could do it’, not just because I just came up with the idea. I worked had and got to where I needed to be.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

I know this might be out of my control, but I just want to get a good solid season in of rugby league. My first season I did my ACL, so you’re out for a year when you injure it. So I played like five games and then I did my year, so I had to wait until I could play again.

This year was my first full season back and we had about six games left before COVID got in the way, which was a bit frustrating. I just really want to get a good, solid year of footy in, not be distracted and just keep building so that when the time comes for us to qualify for the next World Cup, we’re in a comfortable position, and I know I can help lead the team.

“Barbie Mag” superstar Alexis Mavrantonis Photo: Supplied

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

I have asthma, and when I was around 10 I used to do asthma swimming and I went to a carnival and won almost every race. I had Barbie Mag reach out to me and they did an article on me and it was called something like “I swim to overcome asthma”. It was just so funny.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

Well I do love going for a dip in the ocean afterwards, going for a walk, getting home and ordering pizza and laying on the couch because I know I won’t be able to move for the next few days.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

I guess returning back to normal and returning back to the office. With my new job, I’ll have my first season of cricket at the end of the year so fingers crossed we can get out of this mess and return to some kind of normal and have sport back on.

I just can’t imagine how the girls who just started playing footy would’ve trained so hard and now it’s kind of been taken away from them.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

Someone that helped bring women’s rugby league to life. It’s in a spot at the moment where it’s stuck and if I can help inspire younger girls to play and help them realise they can play and it’s not just a boys game then I think I’ll be quite happy with myself.

What is the greatest misconception of women in sport?

That women aren’t as tough as men. I’ll tell you, I have been on the end of some big hits and women are tough. We’re tough in our own way and what they males might forget is that our bodies go through so much. I play with so many women that have had a baby and have come back within months to play a contact sport.