The Sunshine Coast is home to Greece’s national rugby league team skippers Jordan Meads. At just 29-years-old, Meads has already carved out a name for himself in the world of rugby league domestically and internationally.
With a Kiwi father and Cretan mother, Meads truly has the “warrior genes” which have aptly carried him through his whole rugby league career. His passion for the game has gotten him in with the likes of Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors, but not without some of the sport’s greatest figures.
“I think I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve had some of the best coaches in the world over the best part of my career. So you look at guys like John Ackland and Adam O’Brien and coaches like that who are now really creating a name for themselves and in the rugby league circles,” Meads told Neos Kosmos.
The support stretches beyond the field too, with the 29-year-old gushing over how much his wife Courtney has been one of the pillars that have held him up throughout his adult life.
“My wife she’s been a phenomenal support and I can remember times where I said hey and we’re we’re moving to England in a week’s time you know so she’s had to pack up her bags and move to England and she’s always supported every little part of my dreams and my vision and my journey,” Meads said.
As of late, Greece’s rugby league team skipper has his sights set on next year’s Rugby League World Cup held in England, which had been postponed to 2022 to ensure all qualifying nations could participate.
Meads talks honouring his grandparents before each game, the reality of walking onto the field and finding the work/play balance.
What drew you to rugby league?
It probably originated with rugby union. I was your typical All Blacks kid and all I wanted to do was be an All Black. I can vividly remember, from when I was three to six years old, I had an All Blacks jersey that I used to sleep with every night and my dad had to take it away in the middle of the night just so he could wash it. So I think that was ingrained to my DNA pretty early on.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
I’ve been fortunate enough now that I’ve played a number of games for Greece and and my process doesn’t really change. Every single morning without fail I write a letter to my yiayia and pappou, my pappou isn’t alive anymore, but I just send a quick letter to them and thank them for their sacrifice and what they did in order for me to be able to live the life I lived in New Zealand. So I know that once they receive that we would have a a couple of moments where we have a quick chat and generally a few tears and after that I know it’s game time and ready to put your body on the line for your country.
Top three training songs?
I’m probably a little bit hip-hop at heart myself so I’ll listen to a bit a bit Eminem and a bit of Drake and whatever else is relevant but before a game music isn’t really on for me that much, reason being is it makes you feel like something really serious is about to happen and I play better when I relax so I try to limit the amount of music I listen to on game day.
What do you find most challenging about the game?
Every single game is a massive challenge, obviously there’s the physical element and knowing that the next minute could be the last minute that you’ll ever play. There’s certainly a lot of players that jump onto the rugby league field and suffer serious injury or even worse, some people die on the rugby league field.
You’re always conscious that every moment can be your last, but for me, I really love the technical element. I treat it like a game of chess a lot of the time, and there’s a big responsibility in me in my position to run the team and run a lot of plays and structure and manipulate the defence in some way shape or form. I’m always challenging myself and finding ways to get a little bit better.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
There’s a couple! Everyone would say winning the Toyota Cup grand final with the Warriors is something that I’ll never forget and something I would remember for the rest of my life but there’s a couple of other moments. Obviously my debut for Greece against the Czech Republic back in 2014 was a massive year and certainly one I hold true to my heart and a couple of years ago back in 2019 now, when we qualified for the World Cup and that culmination of all the money and the blood, sweat and tears that we had to put up in order to qualify certainly made it all worthwhile. I think a couple of us that have been there for a couple of years we had a really special moment about five or 10 minutes before the end of the match and there were a couple of tears there and we kind of were reminiscing on what we did to get there.
The game was still going, so we probably should have played the game a little bit, but it was just a really good moment knowing that we’d led our proud little nation into the biggest sporting event in the history of the sport.
How has rugby league impacted your life?
I owe a lot to to sport, I owe a heck of a lot. We’ve been in a position where, my wife and I have been able to live in four different countries, in the South of France and in England and New Zealand and Australia and playing professional and full time. That’s something that I don’t take for granted and something that I’m certainly grateful for. Rugby league has a massive impact on my career as well from a business perspective.
You learn a lot of discipline and things involved in the sport that you can certainly use in your day to day business world. I’m incredibly grateful for the lessons that I’ve learned in the game and the friendships that I’ve made and the places that I’ve been able to go and live and travel and live out my dreams. I certainly owe a lot to the game and one day when I do retire, I certainly hope I can give back to the game in the same way that it’s given to me.
What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?
Sometimes you think you really can’t do something you know, it might be an injury or it might be the fact that science denies
that you should be able to do something. But when you’re trying to inspire your teammates and you’re representing a nation, you’ve almost got an onus to do something a little bit different.
I always find there’s always a strong sense of reality in the world, but the second that you jump on a rugby league field that kind of goes and and you do things that you that you probably couldn’t do otherwise, just because it’s not only you you’re representing, it’s a country and your teammates.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
I can’t wait. We’re 12 months away from the biggest moment in our lives and the fact is that a lot of our competition have got the NRL and all these competitions to look forward to, whereas for us it’s the World Cup. So we’re really excited and we know that we’ve got 12 months to work doubly as hard and make sure that we’re in tip top shape and ready to go for the biggest moment in our sport.
We’re under no illusions of the challenge that’s in front of us, but like many Greeks before us in the wars and other challenges, we’re certainly not going to lay down. We’re just really excited for the challenge.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m actually not sure! I’ve got a wife and two beautiful kids and we live on the Sunshine Coast and I’m equally as passionate about my career outside of sport and really wanting to progress in the business world. So for me it’s trying to create an even balance and it never really is because rugby always takes priority.
Favourite way to unwind after a game?
Generally it’s either celebrating or sitting in my room upset, it’s one of the two. It’s pretty contrasting, but look, rugby league is such a such a physical and team orientated game that you always reflect with your team after and whether that’s over a couple of beers or enjoying yourself over a game of cards or whatever it might be, it’s always good to be around the boys and feeling those wins together.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
The World Cup is number one. I’m just keen to improve my game and I feel like I’ve still got two or three really good years left in my career so I’m keen to develop and really focus on putting my best foot forward. There’s a lot of exciting things to focus on next year, but I’m certainly waiting for September because that’ll be the biggest moment of anyone’s life, for all of our [the Greek national rugby league team] lives anyway.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
It’s twofold, from a playing sense I want people to know that I was passionate and that I would rip in for my mates and I really wanted to do whatever team I was playing for really proud.
If you look at it from a greater level, I really want to hopefully be one of the pioneers for Greek rugby league and help put Greek rugby league on the map and I feel like we’re in the process of doing that right now, and one day we’ll all be retired and we’ll be reflecting back on these moments that Greece made the World Cup and played against England, the host nation and in one of the biggest stadiums in England.